Believe & Be Alive!
By Ronnie Caballero, BCBP Makati
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.” So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house. Acts 16:30-33
Last Saturday, I was the assigned speaker for BCLP Talk 10 “ Growing in the Holy Spirit” for the Taguig Outreach BCLP No.4. During my preparations for their Baptism in the Holy Spirit wherein I served as well, I was receiving a constant message in my prayers. One word. Just one word which kept repeating, “BELIEVE.” This word became so relevant on their actual baptism day when we witnessed a strong manifestation of the Spirit, where He was victorious in deliverance and in generously spreading the Gifts. Perhaps, it was indeed a manifestation meant to strengthen the outreach as it spreads its wings in mission. Hence, “Believe” became not just a word but a strong spiritual force that gained root in all who were there that day.
As I prepared for Talk 10, new words was being spoken to me in prayer, they were “Be Alive!” As I continued to pray with these words it became apparent that they meant to make clear my preparations for the topic “Growing in the Holy Spirit”. As the topic deals about prayer, study of the Word, service, sacraments and community for the new believers, I was led to examine my own growth as I blossomed in my own walk with the Lord 28 years ago.
If I were to summarize the secret to the growth of my faith life in my 28 years in the BCBP it can be contained in these words, “IT IS THE LORD!” John 21:7. Just like Peter who jumped into the water upon seeing figure of the resurrected Jesus ashore, I had jumped on every encounter with the Spirit which lit my heart aflame.
My favorite gospel event has always been Jesus’ encounter with the 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus. When the 2 disciples exclaimed in surprise that it had been the Lord all along who had spent the day with them, they said, ”Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32 This has been my life verse ever since (etched in my heart) as I experienced many manifestations of the Spirit in my renewed life.
This verse has always been my ‘measuring stick’ with which I would sense the presence of the Lord in my daily life. Was my heart burning as I prayed and read scriptures? Were the tears in my eyes that welled as I listened to a new worship song because of my own sense or the presence of his Spirit? Was the awe that I experienced in my early formation talks because of the movement of the Spirit? Where had all this begun? How did I start to yearn and pine for every experience of His Spirit? How is it that I cannot stop searching for Him?
I believe that this all started with being immersed in worship. After finishing the BCLP in November 1986 we were immediately brought to the ’General Assembly’ of the whole BCBP at Colegio de San Agustin, Dasmarinas Village. This was the equivalent then to going to the National Anniversary for worship nowadays. We had the late Mike Joseph Jr. as our worship leader with a full music ministry and a strong exercise of the Gifts every month! In addition, our Action Group Leader was the music ministry head of “Central Chapter” so our action group experience of worship was always filled with intensity of Spirit and truth. How blessed were we in our early days in the BCBP!
But more importantly I saw the relevance of this immersion in the Spirit as a STRONG building block on which prayer, study, service, love of sacraments and community would flourish. As soon as I would close my eyes and raise my hands in worship and surrender, an experience of the Lord’s presence would not be far away. The tears and joy that would accompany the singing and the music was truly food for a hungry soul that wanted to grow and follow in his footsteps.
As the new disciples were reminded to ‘stir into a flame’ their faith, I believe learning how to worship in spirit and in Truth is instrumental to all in the BCBP Way of Life. To live the life to the fullest (John 10:10) we must constantly yearn and be sensitive to these movements of the Spirit which will be interwoven into the fiber of our daily faith walk.
What is crucial as to whether a new believer will grow or NOT is whether the experience and concept of being SPIRIT-LED takes root. As for myself, being SPIRIT-LED has meant that I will pray and I will enjoy being in His presence. It also means that I will stay in prayer even when I think nothing is happening. It also means that I will grow in patience as I strain to LISTEN TO HIM in his own time.
Being SPIRIT-LED means that worship music is not just music but love songs to the Most High and scriptures being planted in my heart. Being SPIRIT-LED means I will volunteer for service and enjoy His presence in the activity whether He is in the people present or the message being proclaimed there or in the sacrifices and victories experienced. Being SPIRIT-LED means that I will lean upon Him for the talent and the words needed to complete that service knowing they are not my own.
Being SPIRIT-LED means I will partake of the Sacraments knowing that a life of grace will sharpen my experience of his presence. Being SPIRIT-LED means that I will love the Eucharist and the Holy Mass for it is His real presence. Being SPIRIT-LED means that I will be part of my community IN SPITE of its imperfect people knowing He accompanies all of us with such great love. Being SPIRIT-LED means that I will support my community with my tithes, resources and talents knowing fully He will multiply these for the sake of His Kingdom.
Today’s Gospel on the SPIRIT OF TRUTH is more revealing.: (Jesus said to his disciples,) “I have much more to tell, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all the truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” John 16:12-15
The reflection from 365 Days With The Lord clarifies it even further: “As a farewell gift of Jesus, the Spirit of Truth and Love will help the disciples fathom the love of the Father and the Son and empower them to give witness to this love by their love for one another. “For they shall all be taught by God” (John 6:45). It is not because they will learn anything new, but because they will learn everything in a new way. The Holy Spirit generates us in a new ministry, now written not in tablets of stone but in hearts of flesh. To be touched by the Spirit is to be touched by God. And to be taught by the Spirit is to be taught to speak and live the truth.”
Let us continue to believe and be alive as his disciples called to serve him in the BCBP with our hearts aflame and Spirit-led! Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord! Antoine de Saint Exupery in his wonderful little book The Little Prince expresses it so aptly: “It is only with the heart that one sees rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”