How fortunate! We have a God who has loved and welcomed us first. This Jesus who embodies the hospitality of love went to the extent of willingly shedding every drop of his blood for us along the way to Calvary. When the soldiers pierced His side with a lance there gushed forth living waters opening a safe entry point into His heart. With the completion of the Father’s Will, in his Death, Resurrection and Ascension into heaven, Jesus cleared the way for the coming of the Paraclete-the third person of the Triune God-God’s Holy Spirit.
We are a Eucharistic people, women and men of the Gospel with all that it demands from us of love, forgiveness and justice and of solidarity with those who are poor and rejected by the world. At every Eucharistic celebration we are blessed by the grace of Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This spruces up our weak and faltering heart to open up and to dare to step into the heart of God because of the assurance that God loves us unconditionally just as we are! It is He who takes the initiative to first come out to meet us, whether we are ready or not. Just as a flower needs gentle care and warmth, so too we need the assurance of God’s love and care if we are to gradually open our hearts with growing transparency before God and with ourselves. In Deuteronomy 7:7-9 God had already promised to be this for us from the beginning of time.
With this aim in mind, God sent His only Son, the hospitable Christ to heal our self doubts, to soothe our fears that we are not really wanted or worthy, to insist that God wants nothing more than to share the meal of our life with us, which is amply evident in the mystical poet George Herbert’s poem “Love Bade Me welcome.”
Host to sinner and saint alike, woman and man, insider and outsider, those at the centre of power and prestige and those pushed to the margins of life, Jesus is also the food that is served at every feast, table and simple gathering. “This is my body this is my blood given for you. This is my heart, open for you to enter.” All He asks is that we accept the invitation to sit down with Him to receive His love and friendship and to share His life.
The Holy Spirit functions in the same way. She lures us into God’s life by attracting us, by giving us enough of a taste of God’s life and love that we really desire to go further and to go deeper. The felt sense of God’s love for us changes over time. Love demands a choice that comes from the core of who we are, the desire to remain faithful and responsive to the gift of God’s love that promises to last for a thousand generations.
As we prepare for the feast of Pentecost-the coming of the Holy Spirit, let us surrender ourselves totally as St Madeleine Sophie Barat would say, “Who can say what happens in the souls who surrender themselves completely to the action of the Holy Spirit!” Let us not refuse anything to the Spirit, call upon the Spirit who wants to be desired, call upon her so that she will fill us with her gifts. All of us have received the Holy Spirit in Baptism. However, there is a great difference between possessing this Divine Spirit in Baptism and receiving the Spirit with the abundance of the Spirit’s graces. For this we need, in particular, three dispositions.
The first disposition is a great detachment and freedom from the things of the world, from creatures and from ourselves. These worldly materialistic temptations prevent us from receiving the graces of the Holy Spirit because the Spirit looks for a heart which empties itself. Our hearts are already filled to capacity with worldly attachments. How then can the Spirit freely take possession of it and fill it with heavenly blessings?
Prayer is the second disposition. Awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit, the apostles joined constantly in prayer. Prayer is the means by which we can substitute for our weaknesses and human frailties and obtain the graces which are necessary for us.
Fidelity to inspirations is the third and final disposition for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The stirrings of the Holy Spirit are hampered when we resist the inspirations of grace. Like a clogged dam the flow of the movement of the Holy Spirit is affected.
As the Easter season ends, may the Holy Spirit help us find ourselves in vital places, bringing God’s word of freedom to the poor and the oppressed, remembering the fact that women were present when she burst upon a waiting world creating opportunities for everyone to feel and to fear God’s Holy face. Experiencing love, attracted to open our hearts to it and growing in it over time, may we be transformed by the Spirit. HAPPY FEAST OF PENTECOST!
Dr (Sr) Mudita Sodder RSCJ