May 30, 2022
Today , in God’s Lavish Mercy, we read in Acts about Baptism in the Spirit and the powers it bestows. When Paul encounters some believers who have received the Baptist’s rite of repentance, he asks if they had received the Holy Spirit.
Their simple answer kind of amuses me:
We’ve never even heard of him!
Paul remedies the situation with a few quick sacramental steps and:
… they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
And when Paul laid his hands on them,
the Holy Spirit came upon them,
and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
When I read passages like this, I sometimes wonder what has happened in the millennia since those early Spirit-filled Baptisms… since the days when the Holy Spirit seems to have burst out all over in flames, wonders and eloquence.
Has the Holy Spirit changed? Diminished? Is Her battery running low? Or have we changed … the Church and we members who comprise it?
I guess we all know the answer, given our faith in a changeless God.
So why doesn’t the Holy Spirit blaze for us as She did for those twelve Ephesians in today’s reading?
I think it’s a matter of how we see, and listen.
Sir John Lubbock, a 19th century scientist and polymath wrote this:John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live In
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”
Might not this wisdom apply as well to how we perceive the Spirit in our lives?
If in our daily experiences and interactions, we remain on a superficial, distracted relationship with what is sacred in all Creation, then we – like the fellows in our reading – may “never even hear” of the Holy Spirit.
But if, by prayer and contemplation, we open ourselves to what is holy in everything around us, then what we see and hear, what we feel and respond to begins to change — to catch fire.
During this week leading up to Pentecost, we might try this practice: let’s look more intensely for the Spirit in our daily lives by noticing the presence (or absence) of the Spirit’s gifts.
- How are our choices, conversations, judgements, reactions reflective of these gifts?
- In my experiences each day, what persons or circumstances have mirrored these gifts? What has overshadowed or eradicated them?
The Holy Spirit’s heart beats alive and well within all Creation. I might just need to dust off my stethoscope a bit to hear it! Maybe this beautiful poem will help.
God’s Grandeur- Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Meditation: God’s Grandeur- read so beautifully by Samuel West