Weekly Reflection 5/17/2020


Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Holy Spirit


In a few weeks, on Pentecost, we will remember the birth of our Church through the action of the Holy Spirit:

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

It’s important to remember that the Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force, some kind of symbolic manifestation of God’s love and power.  The Holy Spirit is a “person”, co-eternal and consubstantial with the Father and the Son.  While we very often find ourselves praying to God as the Trinity, or praying to the Father or to Jesus individually, sometimes I find that I neglect praying to and talking to the Holy Spirit in this way.  Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he promised that we would be guided and supported by the Holy Spirit, so I think it’s worth spending time with Him.

I have to confess that on more than one occasion, I have questioned the Holy Spirit why he doesn’t do this “Pentecost” thing more often.  Imagine, I tell Him, how many people would have their faith strengthened if at Confirmation or the Easter Vigil, we could experience Him in such a powerful way, with amazing signs like a “strong driving wind” or “tongues of fire”.

The Spirit, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, answers me with silence, because I’m asking for a show, not a sign.  I want something exciting that would fulfill my desire that faith be easy, obvious, and superficial. When I actually open my mind and heart and pay attention, the Holy Spirit is working all around us all the time.  When I actually take the time to reflect on the Spirit, I am amazed at how often He shows Himself.

I see Him in the young church at St. Francis.  Our youth, like all of us, are growing in faith, yet their faith is so vibrant, powerful, and awesome. I am humbled and yet also inspired by the example they set.

I see Him in the lay ministers and clergy at St. Francis.  It would be easy during these times of lockdown and isolation for our parish to go into a “pause” until things get back to normal.  Instead, our parish leaders have doubled and redoubled their efforts in pastoral activities, in outreach, in liturgy; doing everything they can not to just maintain and help us hang on until this is all over, but to use this as an opportunity to actually grow our faith.  I am overwhelmed by their actions.

I see Him in so many other ways and places; people working to get school supplies to “at-need” kids, food to the hungry, accompaniment to the lonely.  To paraphrase the Apostle John, there aren’t enough Reflections in the world to hold all the ways the Spirit manifests himself right here in Harford County. How dare I ask the Spirit to show Himself?  He is so apparently visible, right here, right now, if only I take the time to see Him.

Let us take some time this week to reflect on where we see the Holy Spirit and His signs in our life and community.  Take time to pray to Him directly.  But be careful…His power is transformative.  You just might find yourself becoming a sign to others of His wonder, might, and mercy!

Bill Merlock