Is the Holy Spirit active in your life?
A few days ago I took a bike ride on one of my old trails near my parent’s house. I stopped to rest for a moment at a spot that has a bench and this vantage point out over the Cuyahoga River valley. While I was sitting there just taking in the beauty of the landscape the wind started to blow and wash over me… and in that moment of spring it occurred to me that it has been so long since I slowed down enough to stop and just feel the wind. The wind didn’t go anywhere… but I had stopped being conscious to it! It had become part of the background of my experience of life.
Christ makes a very powerful promise in the Gospel today that might have brought back some of your own memories as you sit here today. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.” Christ promises us the Holy Spirit. And in the first reading we saw that Spirit being passed on to future disciples. The people of Samaria had been baptized but had not yet received the Spirit, so Peter and John pray and lay hands on them, and they receive the Holy Spirit. As Catholics we can’t hear that without thinking of our own baptism and confirmation. Whether you were a small child or a teenager or an adult, at some point as part of your initiation into the Church the a bishop or a priest anointed you with oil and placed his hands over you, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit was poured into your life.
Was that the last time you felt the wind of the Spirit rushing over? It always is, in the background, but when have you last turned your mind to notice it?
I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Spirit is with you and is stirring you to be a living saint, so long as you have the ears to listen. Listen again to what has been promised: “The Father will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth… he remains with you, and will be in you.” This is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit that healed the poor and the broken, the Spirit that loved even those who would persecute him, the Spirit that gave obedience to the Father in all things… this is the Spirit that confirmation calls the spirit of wisdom and understanding, of right judgment and courage, of knowledge and reverence, of wonder and awe in the presence of God. We should expect – as Christians who have received the outpouring of the Spirit – we should expect to know this profound presence of God sustaining us in our life of discipleship.
But we have to open our ears and our hearts to recognize the Spirit that has been around us this entire time. Think of the moment when you realized what you wanted to do with your life. If you’re married remember the moment it clicked that the person you were dating would be your spouse. Think of the little moments, like the unexplainable hope you have when life is falling apart or the thing that makes you laugh out loud when no one is in the room. But most of all, the inspiration you have to be holy, the nudge to move past your fears and to do what is right and just… this is the Holy Spirit working in your life.
“I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.”