Friday, May 25, 2012

Making Room For The Holy Spirit

Reflections on the Readings
Pentecost Sunday -  May 27, 2012 - Year B
By Dennis S. Hankins

Making Room For the Holy Spirit

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)

I become nostalgic about this time of the Liturgical year.  In my mind I go back to an altar where I am praying in the Pentecostal church of my youth.  Brother Melvin is gently touching me on my back while he prays with me in the Spirit.  I vividly remember as the Holy Spirit gently began to give me an introduction to that way of praying in tongues.  

Through the years I have grown both in that way of praying and in my understanding of this great mystery of the Holy Spirit that birthed the Church on the great Day of Pentecost.  Some of this praying in the Spirit has carried me through dark days and darker nights when trials and wayward children and family illnesses and even death of loved ones filled the hours and days.  In those times I often did not know how to pray, but the Spirit himself interceded for me with sighs too deep for words as I groaned in the Spirit.  Other times I have rejoiced in the bright sunshine of the profound presence of God.  I have seen the Spirit move in men's hearts at Cursillo and I have wept as my soul magnified the Lord in prayer before the Tabernacle. 

 I have an affinity for the Day of Pentecost that stirs my soul.  This celebration makes me even more aware of my soul's need for the fulness of the Holy Spirit.  As we read through the Book of Acts we find the words 'filled' and 'full' in reference to the Holy Spirit in the lives of the faithful.  The Day of Pentecost is 'fully' come in Acts chapter 2.  The Spirit descends from heaven in a sound of a mighty rushing wind.  It 'fills' all the house where the apostles and Mary and others are praying.  Tongues of fire rest upon each one and the devout Jews from every nation under heaven hear them speaking in their own languages the mighty works of God.

Making room for the Holy Spirit is something I witnessed in my father.  Daddy was always quick to acknowledge God and his presence in a matter or a prayer or song or a sermon either he or I preached.  Later in life he was called to pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church.  When the Board of Ordained Ministry asked him how he would handle his experience and belief about speaking in tongues,  Daddy responded in a manner that I can imagine they didn't see coming.  My father explained that he could not deny what God had done for him.  He also put their minds at ease explaining he would never push it on anybody.  And without missing a beat he said, "But I highly recommend it."

My Pentecostal roots are deep going back four generations.  But really they go deeper than that.  And so do yours. At every Mass it is the action of the Holy Spirit that changes the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Christ.  In a recent address Pope Benedict XVI remarked, "At a time in which God has, for many people, become the great Unknown and Jesus is simply an important figure of the past, we cannot relaunch missionary activity without renewing the quality of our own faith and prayer. ... We will not be able to win mankind to the Gospel unless we ourselves first return to a profound experience of God".  As we receive the fulness of Christ in the Holy Eucharist let us make room for the Holy Spirit in ourselves.  May each one of us pray for a renewal of the Spirit in our hearts.  Blessed John Paul XXIII gave this invocation of the Holy Spirit in preparation for Vatican II.  Let us make it our own:

"Renew Your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost. Grant to Your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen"

Come Holy Spirit.

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