Bible Studies
The Latest

For Your Weekend: Transformed by the Holy Spirit

Mallory Smyth

Dig Deeper into Sunday’s Gospel: Read John 20:1923

Courage does not come naturally to me. Most of the time, I avoid conflict as long as possible for fear of making someone uncomfortable, hurting feelings, or not being liked. I readily hide behind caution or prudence to avoid certain opportunities and experiences because I am afraid of undesirable outcomes. Perhaps you can relate. 

Because of my lack of courage, I relish the stories of saints who, with little regard for propriety or approval, spoke and acted boldly for Christ. For example, St. Catherine of Siena audaciously went to visit Pope Gregory XI, who had abandoned his rightful residence in Rome and was living in France. She pestered his attendants relentlessly until they finally allowed her to see him. Then, she exhorted him to return to Rome and, in the end, convinced him to do so. 

There is also Blessed Marie-Anne Vaillot, who was martyred during the French Revolution. When offered the chance to live with the false claim that she had taken an oath to the state over God, she refused. She publicly stated that she would much rather die than ever displease God by taking an oath He detests. 

Can you imagine being so brave? Can you imagine speaking the truth unapologetically? I want to embody God’s truth with that kind of tenacity, but it's not in my nature. I need the power of God to go beyond my limitations to enable me to act in His strength. The good news is that He has given me that power through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and He has given it to you as well.

This week in the Church, we celebrate Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the disciples. However, when we meet the disciples in John 20:19, they are not acting like St. Catherine or Blessed Marie-Anne. Instead, they are hiding, paralyzed, “for fear of the Jews.” 

Recall that the apostles had just seen their Lord Jesus mocked, brutalized, bloodied, and nailed to a cross at the hands of the Jewish Sanhedrin. It’s possible that Jesus’ words in John 15:20, “If they persecute me, they will persecute you,” took on a new, terrifying meaning. If they were going to preach the gospel, they would suffer tremendously. Their distress was valid, and the locked door was a natural response to their circumstances. 

Then, right in the middle of their gathering, Jesus appeared. He didn’t greet them by telling them to pull themselves together and get over it. Instead, He offered them peace. Then, according to John 20:20-22, “He showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the holy Spirit.’”

What Jesus did for the disciples, and us, is monumental. First, He entered directly into the disciple's great distress, stood among them, and showed them that He had conquered the grave. They were afraid of death, of suffering the same fate that He had. But when Jesus revealed His scars, He reminded them that He had defeated them and made way for new life. Death no longer had the last word and was no longer to be feared

After Jesus offered them peace, He breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit. We know, because we have been taught, that the Holy Spirit is an incredible gift, but it can be difficult to wrap our minds around the third person of the Trinity. So, let us better understand the Holy Spirit and what He does.

Simply stated, the Holy Spirit is the outpouring of love of God the Father and God the Son. Jesus promised that after He ascended to the Father, the Holy Spirit, the very essence of the love between the Father and the Son, would become available to each of us. 

This means that the same Spirit that proceeds from the love of God the Father and God the Son came to dwell within the disciples on Pentecost and also comes to live within you and me. 

Take a moment and soak in this glorious truth. “The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). If you open your heart to Him and allow Him to work in you, He will completely transform you. 

By the power of the Holy Spirit, you will become exactly the woman of God you were created to be, confident and courageous, living out Christ’s call on your life. 

This is precisely what happened to the disciples when they received the Holy Spirit. After Jesus breathed on them and the Spirit began to dwell in them, they became unrecognizable. Those men and women, once paralyzed by worry, threw open the doors of the room, ran into a world of opposition, and began to share the gospel. 

Their circumstances hadn’t changed. 

On the contrary, many of them suffered the fate they had anticipated. As a result of preaching the gospel: they spent time in jail, fled stonings, and died a martyr's death. But where fear had been the natural response, the Holy Spirit entered in. Transforming them, He made them capable of supernatural courage. 

And so, I ask you, what are you afraid of? 

Is it the future or the unknown? 

Is it the choices of a loved one? 

The Lord does not stand on the outside disapprovingly, telling you to give up and get over it. Instead, He enters, takes your hand, and offers another option. Receive the peace He provides. Own the victory of His scars. Ask the Holy Spirit to stir within you. Allow His power to transform you. He will give you all you need to live your faith with saintly boldness. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). 

Food for thought or journaling… 

What keeps me living in fear? How is my response natural, and how might the Holy Spirit want to transform my response into supernatural courage?

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. Amen.


Back to


Copyright © 2009-2024 Walking with Purpose, Inc.