ACTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: A HOMILY ON THE MEMORIAL OF ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA (VIRGIN AND DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH)
Since last week, we have been reading from the Acts of the Apostles. This book and the book of Revelation are of particular importance in this season of Easter. The Acts of the Apostles can be understood as what the Apostles did after the ministry of Jesus. In the Gospels, they were like aprentices, but in the Acts, they were now the bosses, having their own disciples as well. The disciples were afraid at first and could not move about freely or minister freely. It was only after the received the Holy Spirit that they could boldly and fearlesly proclaim the Good News. This makes me wonder if this book should not have been called the Acts of the Holy Spirit. Indeed the Holy Spirit is the driving force in this book, so much so that it is impossible to read any chapter where nothing is said about the Holy Spirit. The apostles were completely dependent on the Holy Spirit in everything they did and said.
In our First Reading we see the courage of Peter and John, who as soos as they got out of jail, continued with their preaching, in spite of threats against their lives. The Holy Spirit drove all fears in them and they were not afraid even of death. And when they prayed the whole house rocked and the people were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim the word of God boldly. They prayed that in spite of threats, they will proclaim the message boldly. We see in the Gospel Nichodemus whose love for Jesus is mixed with fear of the people and this makes him to visit Jesus at night. For how long will he continue to sneak around. Jesus tells him that he needs to be born of water and the Holy Spirit. He is still operating in the flesh, and those who operate in the flesh are full of fear, especially fear of death. Jesus tells him that those who are born of the Spirit are like the wind. You dont know where they are coming from or where they are going. They do not follow the normal order of things. The more you threaten them, the more encouraed they are to move on. At that point, your acts will no longer be your acts, but acts of the Holy Spirit.
In St. Catherine of Siena, we see a woman who is led by the Holy Spirit. First, the Spirit led her to leave her contemplative state and live out her vocation in the secular world. Through her writings, she instructed many rulers and leaders and public figures, even the pope Gregory XI. He urged the pope to reform the clergy and administration of the papal states. Her writings were powerful, full of sound doctrine and spiritual inspiration. Such courage cannot come from the flesh. Such wisdom and knowledge cannot come from the flesh. Her acts are acts of the Holy Spirit. Because of the soundness of her teachings, she was given the title of Doctor of the Church. In her, as well as in the apostles, we see people who are born of the Spirit and given the gifts of the Holy Spirit, namely Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. We all need to be born of the Spirit, so that we can be led by the Spirit and our acts would be Acts of the Holy Spirit.