A few minutes ago, we concluded this year’s Novena to the Holy Spirit, the Church’s first novena. For Mary and the eleven Apostles it was nine days of waiting (they did not know how long). For us, it is nine days of anticipation leading to the feast of Pentecost. At various times Jesus has greeted his disciples with the gift of peace and commissioned them to continue the work that he has begun: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Heads up! Listen intently because the “you” Jesus speaks of includes each one of us. Where does Jesus send us? And to do what? Where is anywhere we can be an agent of peace and harmony. And what is to be a reconciling presence in the world amidst situations of conflict in our own homes or our workplaces.
If we believe Jesus’ words when He said “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I” then we know that people have only to come to us, to our community, to find the power and peace of the Spirit. What a truly breathtaking gift that is! We can make God present! Wherever, whenever we pray, whenever “two or three gather” Jesus is there. What an awesome responsibility rests with us! And consider this: what form of the gift of the Spirit has God imparted to you? Look back through the years. What have family, coworkers, community members, friends reflected back to you? Has it been your gift of discernment, your kindness, your optimistic, joyful outlook? Or was it maybe your serenity, calmness and peace, your simplicity, or your awareness of God’s presence everywhere?
If we are to be true to our commission, we need to nourish our ability to call upon this Spirit and to stay close to Jesus because others are depending on us. We need to proclaim the Good News to them with our words and our lives. We may be the only image of God they’ve come to know. Peace must be for us more than just a wish; more than a handshake or a hug. It is a GIFT – a deep confidence that can withstand even the most tragic experiences.
When we live in a positive and loving way, we are fulfilling the mission of Jesus in our world. We may seem to be warming and redeeming only the small, chilly space that we happen to occupy in life. Our kindness radiates, in fact, in wonderful ways like the ripples in a pond ruffling the surface of the water far beyond where we stand. What may begin with a simple, unpretentious act in our dining room, chapel or community room vibrates the air full-circle and comes back to us in a new, life-giving form. Like the game of GOSSIP you whisper a message that gets repeated and distorted many times over. By the time it comes back to you, there is little left of the sentence that you spoke.
There are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit from which spring twelve fruits of the Spirit. The fullness of the Spirit can comfort and challenge us doing lectio with the titles of the Spirit found in our Novena: Comforter, Peacemaker, Root of Virtues, Bestower of Gifts, Bond of Unity, Fountain of Faith, Cause of Holiness, Soul of Ministry, Source of Love. We can BE these gifts to each other only through the Power of the One who commissions us to affirm the mysteries of the universe, to see the lasting value of justice and mercy, to fill our lives with wonder and awe in God’s creative omnipotent presence.
Light years ago, in the first catechism class I taught as a postulant in Dade City, there was a child who, in those days, was labeled “retarded.” The pastor, Father Benedict, Sister Rosaria and I deliberated and prayed for insight to determine whether the child was able to understand the mystery to be received. At the First Communion Mass all doubts were erased. At the elevation of the sacred host, his childish, high-pitched pronouncement could be heard throughout the church: “Here He comes!”
Jesus prayed: “I wish that where I am they also may be with me.” And, so we pray: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts with your presence. May our lives be rooted in your love and wisdom.” The words of that excited child are worth inwardly proclaiming whenever any person or situation approaches us: “Here He comes!”
~S. Roberta Bailey, OSB