The Spirit Guide
When have you relied on the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
In traditional African belief systems, ancestors are “spirit guides” who show compassionate interest in the lives of their descendants. They may include deceased parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles. These spirit guides act as mediators between living people and Almighty God. Although not worshiped by their descendants, these guides are remembered and revered.
As Christians, we honor our ancestors, but we do not see them as spirit guides. Instead, our guide for life is one of the three persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John, Jesus promises that “when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you in all truth” (John 16:13).
Oscar Romero was a quiet and traditional Catholic priest who followed the guidance of the Spirit. He was made Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, at a time in which the country of El Salvador was in turmoil. Authorities were committing government-sanctioned murders, and the killings began to affect him deeply. He sympathized with the priests who served the poor people of the country, pastors who believed that the church should always be with the people.
Guided “in all truth” by the Spirit, Romero began to support new worship services that were relevant to the poor and the oppressed, and he called for the church to become the voice of those being silenced. As he did this, he began to irritate the government.
One day in 1980, Romero was celebrating Mass in a chapel in San Salvador. But as he raised the elements and said, “This is my body given for you, this is my blood shed for you,” a shot was fired. Romero collapsed, his heart pierced by an assassin’s bullet.
Romero always allowed the Spirit to guide him in the ministry and mission of Jesus. He believed the words of Jesus, “the Spirit takes what is mine and will proclaim it to you” (verse 15). In his life and death, Romero heard and responded to what his Spirit Guide was proclaiming to him about the concern that Jesus had for oppressed people.
After his death, Romero became a hero in El Salvador, and he was later embraced by the country’s new government. In 2018, he was recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, with the pope praising his “particular attention to the most poor and marginalized.”
Like Romero, we should allow the Spirit to guide us “in all truth,” in the way of Jesus Christ. This path can be difficult, and it may lead to suffering and sacrifice. But as we serve others, especially the poor and marginalized, we will be living in a way that honors Jesus, and that our descendants will remember for years to come.
Lord, help me to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even when it leads me on the path of sacrifice. Amen.