Letter for May 20, 2018 Pentecost
What the World Needs Now
I would like to begin this reflection with an unusual consideration. Have you ever encountered a person who is permeated by a dark, negative, mean, destructive spirit? Their eyes are dark and glossed over like those of a shark, and they just radiate negativity. When they walk into the room, it feels like a dark cloud has come to hover over everyone to stifle them.
Now imagine a person who walks into the room who is filled with good energy. Their mere presence lifts everyone’s spirits, and people begin to relax and be themselves. This person does not lack for someone to talk to because everyone gravitates toward them. This person’s eyes dance with brightness and their smile radiates love, joy, and peace. This person would be an example of someone who has allowed the Holy Spirit to permeate and guide their lives.
When we talk of the Holy Spirit, it is not necessary to immediately focus on the gifts of tongues, prophecy, spectacular healings, etc. Yes, these extraordinary gifts do exist and they are important. But what are some simple yet profound ways in which the Holy Spirit –that is, the Spirit of God and not the spirit of darkness—manifests itself in our lives?
To appreciate this, it is good to make a quick review of what we call the “fruits of the Spirit.” The fruits of the Spirit are: Love, joy, peace magnanimity, goodness, faithfulness, temperance, and self-control. These people who “light up the room” do not necessarily abound in the spectacular gifts, but rather, they are filled with the simple gifts alluded to by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we can change the world, we can make a difference, if we allow the fruits of the Holy Spirit to take root in our hearts and in our souls. People will want to be around us. People will want to be our friend. People will be inspired by the simple things we do to because we make them feel comfortable and affirmed.
Pope St. Leo the Great said in a famous sermon on Pentecost that what is unique about this feast is not just the gift of the Spirit but the EXTENT of the gift. The Holy Spirit is not just given to kings and prophets, but at Pentecost the Holy Spirit is poured out over all of humanity.
So when we forgive others, when we are generous, when our hearts radiate joy, when we are faithful to our promises and vows, when we recognize God’s presence in everyone and in all of creation, and when we pray about making wise choices in our life—these are all powerful manifestations of the everyday gifts of the Holy Spirit so often overlooked when we limit ourselves to only recognizing the spectacular gifts
To be a good human being whose life is imbued with the fruits of the Holy Spirit is probably the most important gift and witness this world needs!
With love from your pastor,
Fr. Edwin Gros, SJ