The Acts of the Apostles begins with a promise: “In a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5). Jesus is about to ascend to heaven, and the mission for his followers is urgent and clear: Be my witnesses. Love others. Help people to know the Father.
Living and sharing our Catholic faith — both then and now — can be challenging, but it is our primary assignment as believers. And it is one we, as catechists, are charged to communicate to our students.
At the heart of this mission lies the third person of the Trinity: the Holy Spirit. In Scripture, we see the Spirit’s actions so clearly in the Acts of the Apostles, which highlights how the early Church lived and shares about those who took up the call from Jesus and ran with it. With the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, those disciples grew the Church and paved the way for all of us to know the faith today.
Let’s explore some of the key parts of the Acts of the Apostles to show the Holy Spirit at work in the first disciples and help you energize your students to take up that same call: being witnesses to God’s Truth in their families and in the world.
From the word
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts of the Apostles 1:8).
■ What is the setting for the Acts of the Apostles? (Jerusalem, soon after Jesus’ resurrection)
■ Jesus is ascending to his Father in heaven. What does he promise his disciples? (That
the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will come to help them)
■ What did Jesus ask of his disciples upon his ascension? (To be his witnesses and spread the faith all over the world)
- Up, up, up. Give each child a helium-filled balloon and teach them about Jesus’ last words before he ascended to heaven. Have them release the balloons and watch the balloons float to the ceiling. Discuss what it must have been like for the apostles
to watch Jesus ascend. Did they follow him with their gaze until he could be seen no more? How difficult would it have been to trust and wait?
- Not seeing, but believing. Give each student a feather, and have them keep blowing it into the air, not letting it touch the ground. Ask them what is keeping the feather afloat. Discuss how, even though we cannot see the Holy Spirit in action with our eyes, he is constantly at work in our lives.
The first disciples couldn’t fully understand what Jesus was asking them to do, but they were called to trust him and wait for the helper he was sending. Today that same Holy Spirit continues his work through the lives of his disciples — disciples like us.
Lynn Wehner is a Catholic writer, editor, speaker, and catechist who lives with her
husband and their children in Connecticut.
This article originally appeared in Catechist magazine, September 2018.
PHOTO: RENATA SEDMAKOVA/SHUTTERSTOCK