In Acts, we read about the Holy Spirit “coming to rest” on Jesus’ followers. But the Holy Spirit hasn’t gotten a whole lot of “rest”, as far as I can see.
For one thing, those who receive the Holy Spirit are given gifts. If you do a bit of research into these gifts, you will find that tradition holds that there are seven (or perhaps nine) gifts. The list of seven, take from Isaiah 11: 2-3, include wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage, knowledge, reverence, and awe of God. The list of nine is taken from I Corinthians 12, and includes wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues. But if you read 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and Romans 12, you’ll be able to count at least 20 gifts which the Holy Spirit gives us. So He’s been pretty busy: he hasn’t gotten much “rest”.
As we read about the effect of the Holy Spirit on followers of Jesus, we discover a listing of fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5: 22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” As with the gifts, if we poke around a bit more in the Bible, we will discover other qualities that could be described as “fruits of the Spirit”. So once again, the Spirit has been keeping busy.
But we’re expected to be busy as well. A gift left in the box is of no value. Even if the ribbon is removed and the box is opened, a gift is worthless to us if we leave it sitting there. We’re expected to open these gifts and put them to use. And as we do so, the Spirit will bear fruit in our lives. If we cooperate with the action of the Holy Spirit, we will have an abundant harvest which can be used in the service of God and of those around us.
As we remember Pentecost, let us pray with St. Augustine:
Breathe into me, Holy Spirit,that my thoughts may all be holy.
Move in me, Holy Spirit,that my work, too, may be holy.
Attract my heart, Holy Spirit,that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit,that I may defend all that is holy.
Protect me, Holy Spirit,that I may always be holy.