Jesus was always controlled by the Holy Spirit. It was the Holy Spirit that led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Being controlled or led by the Holy Spirit is called freedom – the freedom of a child of God.
Jesus and His disciples always walked, ate, and slept together in one place. They moved around as one group. Wherever Jesus was, the disciples were there too.
Many times people tried to attack or isolate the disciples, but Jesus would be there to protect them. On one occasion, when the disciples were seen picking wheat on the Sabbath day, the Pharisees and Sadducees were ready to attack. But Jesus was around to defend His disciples and justify their actions. When the disciples were in danger in the storm, Jesus came towards them walking on the water. When Peter was sinking into the water, Jesus came to lift him up.
Throughout His three years of public ministry, the disciples were always safe, they never lacked anything.
The Holy Spirit after Jesus’ death
At the end of His earthly ministry Jesus told His disciples that He was going to be crucified and would leave them. But He promised one thing:
John 14:16 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.
When Jesus was preaching there were no notebooks or recording materials. Most of the disciples were illiterate. Jesus knew that they could not remember everything. However, He promised that the Holy Spirit would remind them of all He taught.
John 14:26 – But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.
This is why, after Jesus’ death, there were many things that Mark had forgotten to write in the Gospels, but Matthew added. There were many things that Matthew had forgotten which Luke added in his Gospel. Finally John included the events that Matthew and Mark had forgotten in their writings. This is why we have four different Gospels, all inspired by the Holy Spirit.
But even that was not enough. Jesus gave St Paul the power of the Holy Spirit. Even though he was not one of the twelve disciples, St Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down everything that Jesus had preached. This is how we have the sacred scriptures in our hands today.
1 John 2:27 – As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him
The anointing of the Holy Spirit will help, teach, and guide you. A great example of this is our Superior Fr George Panackal VC. He has not undergone any doctorate or higher studies (apart from the usual education for a priest). Yet the amount of the theology and deep wisdom that comes from his mouth is far beyond anything that we could imagine or know, and this can only be the Holy Spirit that is teaching and revealing Himself through Fr George.
Following Jesus’ Death and Ascension, when the disciples were praying in the Upper Room, they received the power of the Holy Spirit which descended on them like the tongues of fire. Throughout the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit was always there helping the disciples.
Acts 5:19-20 – But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, brought them out, and said,“Go, stand in the temple and tell the people the whole message about this life.”
When the disciples were in prison, the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors to set them free. They were told to go out and preach. The Holy Spirit directed this whole event.
Acts 8:26 – Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.)
In this next situation, the Holy Spirit was guiding Philip (through the angels), and helped him to take the right road.
Acts 8:27-31 – So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worshipand was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.
Through the Holy Spirit, Philip explained the scriptures and all the secrets about Jesus; he revealed everything of the Old and New Testament to the eunuch, who was baptised immediately. But what happened to Philip after the baptism?
Acts 8:39 – When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more and went on his way rejoicing.
The Holy Spirit took Philip away and transported him to another place to preach.
Acts 8:40 – But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
This is how the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of the early Christians. They were all living and being led by the Holy Spirit.
Acts 9:10 – Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
From the passage above, the disciples were able to levitate and possess extraordinary gifts. They had the gift of vision, healing, word of knowledge, and miracle-working powers. All these are gifts of the Holy Spirit manifested in the lives of the disciples. All these gifts are active even today. But many doubt this and think that these signs and wonders are only limited to the early Christians.
God will never show any partiality. If God manifested gifts and charisms in the first Century, he will give the same to every single Century throughout time, even our own.
Acts 9:11-12 – The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”
We see that the Holy Spirit revealed minute details of Saul’s location to Ananias. On one side we see that Saul was praying. And on the other side, God was acting. Therefore if anyone kneels down to pray, God cannot sit quietly. He will be working. If we want God to move, we must kneel down and pray.
In the passage above, God not only revealed the city name, street name, house name, who was in the house, and how many people in the house but also what was Saul doing and what was going on in his mind. This is the power of the Holy Spirit when He is in control. This is how the Lord reveals everything to you. We should live by the Holy Spirit. How do we do this?
How to live by the Holy Spirit
Every human being is made of three parts: the body, the mind and heart (emotions); and the spirit – this is the Divine Spirit, infilling and active in us. No other creature has this, only human beings.
When there is coordination between these three parts, there is order and that is perfection. How is this possible?
John 11:33 – When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.
In this passage, Jesus’ spirit was moved first; His Spirit was the first to react to the situation. His emotions then supported His Spirit, and His body acted accordingly.
John 13:21 – After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
Again, the first response of Jesus was in the Spirit. His emotions followed, and lastly His body supported His spirit and emotions. We see the same pattern in the verse below when Jesus was rejoicing in the Spirit:
Luke 10:21 – At that very hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
On another occasion when Jesus was a guest in a Pharisee’s house, a poor lady approached Him. She cried, washed and wiped Jesus’s feet with her hair. When everyone saw this, their first reaction was emotional: they said she was a sinner and that she had to get out. Their physical actions desired to treat her badly. But how did Jesus react?
When Jesus looked at her, His Spirit reacted first. His Spirit knew she was a sinful woman. But His Spirit knew she was repentant. Jesus’ emotions followed: He felt compassion. His physical response was to forgive her sins and bless her with peace (Luke 7:13).
Another occasion was when Jesus was preaching to the 5,000 people. When the disciples saw how impossible it would be to feed them, they advised Jesus to send them away. But through His Spirit, Jesus knew that the people were hungry and had not eaten anything for the last three days. The people needed help or they would perish. Jesus felt compassion for them in His emotions. His body acted accordingly. He asked if there was any food. He divided and multiplied the food to feed everyone.
This is the reason why Jesus is the perfect man: there is order in Him. When His Spirit reacts, His emotions and body follows. There is no inner conflict. In our case, in many situations our emotions act first. We are in inner conflict, which is dangerous. For many of us, the spirit tells us how to behave in a certain way, but our emotional side is too active and wants to go first. This tension will be reflected on our faces: sorrow, sadness, depression, irritation, unhappiness. These expressions are nothing but a reflection of our inner conflict.
Romans 7:14-18 – For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. But in fact it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that the good does not dwell within me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do the good lies close at hand, but not the ability.
The inner conflict is the reason why we get angry, irritated or disturbed quickly, and why we are not able to forgive each other.
1 Cor 2:14 – Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Who are the “unspiritual”?
From the verse above, who are the “unspiritual”? Everyone possesses a spirit, but it is suppressed. Why is it suppressed? The reason is because the spirit is not being fed. As explained, we are made up of three integral parts, the spirit, mind and emotions, and body.
We all have food for our body, morning, afternoon, evening (and in between). When we make sure we get food every day, our body grows.
We also need food for our emotional needs and feelings in the form of love, support, care, and understanding. This is why we search for love and acceptance from our family and others. If this is not possible, we look for it elsewhere such as from animals, movies or the internet. Somehow we will get some emotional food every day, and as a result our emotions grow.
There are some people who do not get enough emotional support, especially the love that they are supposed to receive from their father or mother. In these cases they should receive love from Mother Mary and Our Lord Jesus. But what about people who are not spiritual and do not depend on Jesus, Mother Mary or the Saints? In this case there is a gap, a vacuum inside. This is when they search for happiness from outside. This is why people fall into wrong relationships one after another. They are going out searching for someone to love them. If they meet someone who says, “I love you”, they are very happy, but this does not last. If we are not satisfied inside, we will go to any extent to get satisfaction from outside.
A medical student once attended the retreat centre. Her father had died leaving herself, her mother and sister. Her father was the only earning member of the family. Eventually her mother got involved with another man. Although the student knew it was a wrong relationship, she did not interfere as he was helping the family financially. Eventually the student realised that the man was giving her sister more pocket money than her. She believed it was because her sister was better looking than her. This led to feelings of rejection and hatred towards her sister. Afterwards the student searched for love from outside. She got into repeated cycles of abusive relationships with at least five men, one after the other. Eventually she realised that no one truly loved her, they just loved her body. She entertained thoughts of committing suicide until she was brought to the retreat centre. During the retreat, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and received the words, “I love you my child, your name is written on my palms, even if your mother or father forget, I will never forget you. You are precious to me”. She had a powerful experience of being hugged by Jesus. She went for a good confession and afterwards she felt truly loved. Finally she did not need anything else from anyone as she had found her real lover.
What happens during a retreat?
In the last twenty-six years, thousands of people have attended a retreat at the Divine Retreat Centre in Kerala. Most people leave entirely different to when they first entered. They come with a burden, a gloomy face and all kinds of sicknesses, problems, worries, divisions, unforgiveness and hatred. But when they return home, they are rejoicing, dancing, and joyful. They are completely set free and do not want to leave.
What has happened? When people arrive they are not allowed to leave until the retreat is over. Once inside, they are given ordinary food and a strict timetable. There are no opportunities for emotional satisfaction. However, for their spirit they get food every day, from morning to evening: Confession, Holy Eucharist, healing adoration, personal prayer, worship and singing.
Even after a few days, their whole spirit will put on weight while their body and emotions lose weight to become skeletal and thin. The body and emotions will get weaker and weaker while the spirit becomes stronger and stronger. By the end of the retreat, the people are so full of the spirit that even when the spirit instructs the person to kneel down and pray, the body and emotions will obey. When the spirit says to lift up the hands (even when there is pain in the shoulder) the body will obey. When the spirit says not to watch something, the eyes will close and obey because it knows the spirit is stronger. This is what we call a spiritual being.
When the retreat is over
When people return home they are rejoicing. There is perfect order in their bodies, and this will continue for about three to seven days, in extreme cases, one month. After this, compromise slowly takes hold. Some people lose the anointing. Some lose the spirituality. Some lose everything and go back to square one. However there are many people who persist with a spiritual life.
Why do some people fall down? After the retreat, they continue to feed their spirit. They will continue to kneel down, pray and read the Bible. They will continue to listen to the preachings. They will continue to repeat the name of Jesus and feed the spirit. But at the same time they will start to give food for their body and emotions. For instance, all the delicious food, movies and entertainment once unavailable in the retreat centre gets taken up again now they are home. Although these things are not bad or evil in themselves, uncontrollable feeding of the body and emotions will result in the spirit weakening. Suddenly when the spirit says it is time for evening prayer, the body will say it does not feel like kneeling, and the emotions will say it feels sleepy. Consequently, prayer will be postponed for the next day. Slowly in time, the spirit will be suppressed and the body and emotions overrule. This is called the fleshly life.
Galatians 5:16 – Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Remember to give food for the spirit. Otherwise the spirit will not grow but other parts of the body will grow disproportionately. This is called disorder. For instance, imagine if your head is growing at a different rate to the rest of your body. Therefore it is not enough just to feed the spirit only on a Sunday, with one Sunday Mass. That will not be sufficient. Is it acceptable to eat one supper for the whole week, and only on a Sunday?
The secret to becoming a spiritual being
To maintain order in your life, the spirit should be given at least 51% of food. The remaining 49% can be divided up between the emotions and body. Anyone who is so busy giving food for their body and emotions cannot live by the Spirit (Gal 5:16). If you are ready to control this food, then you will become a spiritual being.
This is the secret, the easy shortcut to becoming a spiritual being: give at least 51% of food to the spirit, and 49% to the body and emotions.
Voluntary and natural desire
If this proportion is always kept, and the more you give food for the spirit, the more you will become powerful in spirit. It may be hard for some people to “calculate” this proportion on some days. But there is an easy method for this. In every human being, there is a concept of voluntary desire and natural desire. For example, in the morning we need breakfast because we did not eat overnight: this is known as natural desire. However, if we had breakfast at 8:30am but then returned at 10am for a second breakfast: this known as voluntary desire.
Likewise for example, suppose we came for a lunch that was prepared for us. If we looked at the food and did not like it or we refused to eat, this would be known as voluntary desire. If you really want to be a spiritual being, then cut off your voluntary desire and accept only natural desire which is permitted by our Lord Jesus. Then you will be able to keep this 51:49 % balance.
A good example of this was when Fr George attended a special feast day when the cook had prepared many varieties of food on the table. Fr George was seen only to take one curry and rice. When asked why he did not try the other foods, Fr George explained that although it was the cook’s duty to provide many different varieties, it was his duty to eat only what was needed for him.
In the Word of God, St Paul writes:
1 Cor 6:12 – “All things are permitted for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are permitted for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.
In conclusion, if you are able to keep this formula, this 51:49 % secret, you will become a spiritual being. Your life will be led by the Holy Spirit, and you will live by the Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord.