Newsletter for Sunday 23 May 2021

21 May

The Breath of God, His life in us

We all like spectacular fireworks. They are exciting, impressive, exhilarating. The Church’s first Pentecost had some spectacular fireworks. The Apostles, Our Lady and other Christians were gathered “in one place together”. We don’t know exactly where. Probably it was somewhere inside or near the Temple in Jerusalem, since right after the fireworks, crowds started to gather. It may have been the same large room where Jesus and the Apostles had eaten the Last Supper. But they were all in one place, and then a thunderous noise like a strong wind, like a tornado, came from the sky. And then flames appeared. Flames of fire just appeared out of nowhere, spontaneously, hovering in the air. And these flames divided up and started floating through the air until they came to rest on each of the people gathered. But the fireworks didn’t stop there. All of a sudden, the Christians started speaking in languages that they didn’t know. A crowd had gathered by now, with visitors from all over the world who were in Jerusalem for the festival. Each one heard those first Christians explaining the gospel in their own language.

It was a dramatic, spectacular display.

But we would be wrong to conclude from this that the Holy Spirit’s normal way of acting in our life is through dramatic fireworks. In fact, it’s just the opposite. God’s action in our life is most often gentle and hardly perceptible at first but the results can be life changing. St John in his Gospel tells us Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to his Apostles by breathing on them – quietly and subtly. And St Paul describes the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church like the soul of a body – powerful, essential, but invisible and subtle.

The Holy Spirit works quietly. Like the sap of a vine, which constantly but silently carries nutrients to every branch, invisibly producing luscious, visible fruit and effects. The Holy Spirit is always gently inspiring us to follow Christ more closely, so that we can experience a truly abundant life. But, unlike vines, this process doesn’t happen automatically in us. It depends partly on our free choice. That’s why Jesus says in the Gospel, “Whoever loves me will keep my word.” We don’t obey the Holy Spirit’s inspirations like robots; we obey out of love and the Holy Spirit comes to help, equip and strengthen those who love and obey Jesus.

And since the Holy Spirit typically works quietly, we have to pay close attention to Him. We have to make a point of listening to Him, of consulting Him when we have decisions to make or doubts to resolve or needs to address. Listen to His voice in the teaching of the Church and the Holy Scriptures, the voices of the Saints, and the silence of our souls.

Breathe on us breath of God and make our hearts your home. Help us love Jesus and may our love show.

Fr David Jones, OLW

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