“He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15)
These were the words of the angel Gabriel to Zachariah about the son that was to be born to his wife Elizabeth, whom we know as John the Baptist.
What is significant about this is that God had not been speaking much to the people of Israel, nor pouring out his Holy Spirit for several centuries before Christ. Malachi, the last prophet appearing in the Old Testament composed his work before 445 B.C. The Book of Daniel was written in the period of 167 to 164 B.C.
But now Gabriel is telling Zachariah that he and Elizabeth would have a son in their “old age” and that the son would immediately be filled with the Holy Spirit. After a long absence, God would be anointing John at his conception. God would “go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)
With the power of the Holy Spirit, John would prepare the people of Israel for God’s son, Jesus.
As we begin this season of Advent and Christmas, perhaps we could reflect on how privileged we are to be able to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in baptism at an early age, just like John — the same Holy Spirit that gave him the power to speak and bring the people of Israel to repentance, the same Holy Spirit that enabled Peter to bring three thousand to repentance on the day of Pentecost, and the same Holy Spirit that enabled the apostles, Paul and all of the early Christians to spread the faith against unbelievable odds and persecution.
If you are not currently experiencing the Holy Spirit in this way, ask the Lord to renew the Holy Spirit that is within you through your baptism. Ask Jesus to ignite the spark that never goes out, but is waiting to be fanned into a flame to live for God and to do his work. As Gabriel said to Mary, “nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)
Many years ago, I was invited by a priest to ask Jesus to take my sins, accept his forgiveness and renew the Holy Spirit’s presence in me. He did, and my life was forever changed.
As Jesus said to the disciples just before his ascension, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Do you experience the Holy Spirit like John the Baptist, the apostles, or many Christians today? Ask Jesus to fan into a flame the Holy Spirit that is in you through your baptism.