What words would you use to describe your current experience of God? Growing? Frustrated? Disappointing? Fulfilled? Forgiven? Stuck? Struggling? Joyful? Defeated? Exciting? Up and down? Empty? Discouraged? Dutiful? Intimate? Mediocre? Painful? Dynamic? Guilty? Vital? So-so?
When have you had moments where you sensed the divine presence – that God was near, or in your heart? Have you prayed for guidance and felt you received it? Or have you had spiritual experiences of a different kind?Sometimes it’s hard to recognize whether or not we are “experiencing” God or simply enjoying the music in a liturgy, or that the scenery in church is beautiful, or that we are surrounded by the community of faith at Holy Family Parish. Perhaps it is just a joy and appreciation of living that we are experiencing. I expect that each of us, in our own unique and mysterious way, will not be able the express or understand fully an experience of God.
This weekend we are celebrating the Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost is a celebration of God’s love and presence, given to all humanity, that ushers in a new beginning, a new day, a new creation, a new life. Pentecost is the fulfillment of God’s love with and for all humanity. The breath of God is not simply a thing or an event. It is the abiding and transforming presence of God’s life with us and in us. Wherever life is being created, renewed, put back together, or inspired, the Holy Spirit is present. God is breathing into each one of us a life of love and self-giving, forgiveness and reconciliation, generosity and compassion, healing and wholeness, prayer and holiness. The experience of Pentecost is that God breathes and fills hearts, souls, minds, and bodies with his own spirit and life. God breathes and his extraordinary power fills and works in common ordinary people, like you and me, in common ordinary ways, transforming us. God breathes and we have newness of life.
This weekend’s scriptures recall the story of the disciples gathered in the upper room. The disciples hear a sound like the rush of violent wind filling the room. They see divided tongues, as of fire, appearing and resting on each of them. The disciples speak, hear and understand strange new languages. I suspect many, if not most, of us wish for such an experience of God like that every once in a while. We need a tangible sign, a sound, a vision, that reveals God’s presence, that guides us in our life, that reassures us. Today’s feast means that we are all “spirited”by the wind, the breath and the life of God. This “spiriting” is what sustains and renews our lives and our world. God breathes out and we breathe in. We breathe out and God breathes in. Back and forth it flows. God and humanity share the divine flow, the breath of life. Take a deep breath; it is Pentecost. Let the breath out; it is Pentecost. Now do it again. It is Pentecost! Pentecost is a real thing. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit wasn’t just for the Apostles. We are all meant to receive the Holy Spirit. We are all meant to know God, walk with God and receive the graces we need for our daily lives from Him.
The divine presence can be experienced while observing a tree as its leaves are touched by the wind. It may be seen in the eyes of someone in need; in any anonymous action of selfless love and generosity; or in the joy of a dog wagging its tail as a way of expressing friendly feelings. It is also in the brightness of stars in the sky. It enables each us to love and awakens in us a natural need to have respect for truth and justice. The divine presence is the center of peace in our hearts. It constitutes the source of inspiration for us to build a community of love and fellowship. May the silence and Presence of God bring us all newness of life.
Imagine, right now, that you are standing before a divine presence. What would you think, if you knew that a great spiritual intelligence, of infinite wisdom, is at your side? What would your attitude be if you perceived that a holy and wise being, a teacher of mankind, observes in this exact moment your emotions and thoughts? Would you feel ashamed? Would you be proud, or overwhelmed by emotion? Calm or anxious? May each of us remember that we are always in the presence of the divine love. Our spiritual journey is then about the central challenge to consciously perceive and live in presence of the divine love at each moment of our lives.
Holy Spirit and Seat of Wisdom
A Prayer by John Paul II
Holy Spirit and Seat of Wisdom
help us in the great endeavor that we are carrying out
to meet on a more and more mature way
our brothers and sisters in the faith.
Through all the means of knowledge, of mutual respect, of love,
may we be able to rediscover gradually the divine plan.
Teach us constantly the ways that lead to unity.
Help us all to proclaim Christ and reveal the power of God
and the wisdom of God hidden in His Cross.
How greatly I desire to entrust to You
all the difficult problems of the societies, systems, and states–
problems that cannot be solved with hatred, war, and self-destruction,
but only by peace, justice, and respect for the rights of people and nations.