For more than a year those involved in World Youth Day 2008 have been using the catchy buzz word Activ8. It refers to verse 8 from chapter one in the Acts of the Apostles.

€˜You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.€™(Acts 1:8)

Our young people, organisers of WYD08 and many others I am sure have been reflecting on this very special verse. Since we are in the Season of Pentecost it is well that we give some time to reflect on the meaning of this special verse.

Presence of the Holy Spirit
While we truly believe in the Holy Spirit and know that Spirit lives within us it is important from time to time to let the implications of this truth sink in. When Jesus ascended to heaven it was not an abandonment of his people. He did it so that he would continue to be present to them in a new way '€“ through the Holy Spirit. It brought about a new and deeper kind of presence. When Jesus was sent by God into this world, his visible presence within the world was temporary.

The Holy Spirit is sent by God into this world to be with us, within us, at our side, on our side. That'€™s what '€œAdvocate / Paraclete'€ means. The Spirit does not become incarnate but truly dwells within us. And his presence is not temporary. It lasts forever. The presence of the Spirit is not a second-rate presence either. It is the presence of God. It is a real presence.

Power to witness
I like to think of witnessing to Jesus as pointing others to him as John the Baptist did. There are many ways of doing this. Having the fruits and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I believe, are very practical and special ways of witnessing to Christ. When I show others, the love, joy and peace of God I witness to Christ. When a person exercises patience, kindness and self-control, that person witnesses to Christ. When people show goodness, trustfulness and gentleness they witness to Christ. When you display courage and wisdom and make good choices you witness to Christ. When knowledge is shared and others are helped to understand, this is witnessing to Christ. Every display of reverence for God and others and a sense of wonder and awe is witnessing to Christ.

These fruits and gifts are not only given to us by the Holy Spirit but also the ability to live them comes from him. In other words the power to use these fruits and gifts comes from the Holy Spirit.

Let us then activate the Holy Spirit more by thanking the Holy Spirit for being present within us, asking the Holy Spirit to use well the fruits and gifts and so witness better to Jesus, pointing others toward him.

Bp Justin Bianchini