Watch: Love | The Fruits of the Holy Spirit | A Pentecost Novena w/ Bishop Boyea

As we prepare ourselves for the great Solemnity of Pentecost, May 23, Bishop Boyea invites each of us to meditate over nine days upon the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit that, we should pray, will more and more animate our daily lives: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith in action, gentleness, and inner strength (Galatians 5:22-23). Today: Love. Bishop Boyea says:

“Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I but also all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks; greet also the church in their house” (Rom 16:3-5). So does Paul end his Letter to the Romans. What the married couple, Prisca and Aquila, did for Paul was a real act of love.”

“We need to be clear what we mean when we talk about love as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Clearly, each one of us has been given the great gifts of faith, hope, and love in our Baptism. So, this fruit of the spirit is not a new gift. In fact, it is not a new anything. When Paul talks about love being a fruit of the Spirit, he means that the Holy Spirit helps us to let our Baptismal gift of love show itself in real, concrete acts of love.”

“So then how will the Holy Spirit help us to be loving persons? I believe there are three ways. First, the Holy Spirit teaches us that love is more about our will than about our emotions. Who were Prisca and Aquila? They were a married Jewish couple who seem to have come from Pontus in present-day Turkey and became Christians while living in Rome. In the year 49 AD, the Emperor Claudius expelled all the Christians from Rome no doubt because of some fights with the Jewish population over Christ (Suetonius; Acts 18: 2). This married couple fled to Corinth where they met Paul and invited him to live with them as they shared the same trade, tent making (Acts 18:3). They were then roped into Paul’s strong personality as he argued for Christ with everyone. Prisca and Aquila obviously loved each other, and they clearly loved God. They never let fear control them but showed their love by their choice of supporting this wild preacher, St. Paul, even to the point of moving with him to Ephesus. Love is a choice that we make and then we stick to it.”

“Secondly, we are not certain what exactly Prisca and Aquila did to help Paul. After Paul and this couple moved to Ephesus, a large port city on the western coast of present day Turkey, he became quite a successful evangelist. He was so successful that the silversmiths of the city rioted against him. They earned money by making statues of false gods and Paul was undermining those false gods. Paul was saved by his disciples who most likely were his friends, Prisca and Aquila, with whom he was living (Acts 19: 21-41, esp. v. 30). If so, they risked their necks for him. Prisca is always mentioned first and so it may have been that she was the stronger personality or the one who took the initiative. Her husband, Aquila, however, saw that his love for her was a love of sacrifice. In fact, love is not love unless it is willing to sacrifice itself for another, unless it is willing to risk your neck.”

“Thirdly, the Holy Spirit shows us that love is always about seeking what is the best for the other. It is not about ourselves. After Prisca and Aquila moved to Ephesus (Acts 18:18) and opened a church in their own house (I Cor 16:19), and after the riots, Paul eventually traveled back to the Holy Land before returning to be with them. In the meantime, a great speaker, Apollos, came to town and spoke boldly about Christ though some of his teachings were incorrect. This married couple took him in hand to inform him properly all about Jesus (Acts 18:26); from this he went on and did great things in Corinth, no doubt urged on to that city by Prisca and Aquila. They knew there was not enough room in Ephesus for both Paul and Apollos. Thus, it appears that the Holy Spirit was helping this married couple to make sure that Jesus’ messengers were well cared for and prepared. It was not about Prisca and Aquila; it was about Paul and Apollos and the early Church; they always sought the good of others.”

“The Holy Spirit working in us will result in our ability to be truly loving, a love which helps us make a commitment and stick to it and not just be guided by how we feel, a love which helps us to risk our neck for others, and a love which really seeks the good, the best for others rather than for ourselves. Let this love, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, be the decisive reality of our existence making all our actions different by showing itself in our real acts of love.”