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Fr Richard Rohr: A Further Baptism May 31, 2024

Corpus Christi
Fr Richard Rohr
Fr Richard Rohr

A Further Baptism

In this reflection, Fr Richard Rohr, a prominent Franciscan Priest and writer on the topic of spirituality, encourages us to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, a gift God has already given us!  Why, however, are we reading about the Holy Spirit on Corpus Christi Sunday? Because while Jesus left us his Body and Blood, it’s the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be transformed into what we consume.

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability” (emphasis added) —Acts 2:1–4.

It’s a shame that the Holy Spirit tends to be an afterthought for many Christians. We don’t really “have the Spirit.” We tend, I’m afraid, to simply go through the motions. We formally believe, but honestly, there isn’t much fire to it. There isn’t much conviction. There isn’t much service. We just sort of believe. That’s why in the Gospels there are two clearly distinguished baptisms. There’s the baptism with water that most of us are used to, and then there’s the baptism “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11); that’s the one that really matters.

The water baptism that many of us received as children demands little conviction or understanding. Some parents simply do it to make their parents or grandparents happy. Until this baptism by water becomes real, until we know Jesus, and we rely on Jesus, call upon Jesus, share and love Jesus, we’re just going along for the ride.

We can recognize people who have had a second baptism in the Holy Spirit. They tend to be loving. They tend to be exciting. They want to serve others, and not just be served themselves. They forgive life itself for not being everything they once hoped for. They forgive their neighbours. They forgive themselves for not being as perfect as they would like to be.

Even though we so often pray, “Come, Holy Spirit,” the gift of the Spirit is already given. The Holy Spirit has already come. We all are temples of the Holy Spirit, equally, objectively, and forever! The only difference is the degree that we know it, draw upon it, and consciously believe it. All the scriptural images of the Spirit are dynamic—flowing water, descending dove or fire, and rushing wind. If there’s never any movement, energy, excitement, deep love, service, forgiveness, or surrender, we can be pretty sure we aren’t living out of the Spirit. If our whole lives are just going through the motions, if there’s never any deep conviction, we aren’t connected to the Spirit. We would do well to fan into flame the gift that we already have.

By Father Richard Rohr


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