The first reading finds Paul in his travels discussing if they (the Ephesians) received the Holy Spirit. Imagine his surprise when they replied they had never even heard of it. Paul helped them to see the difference between a baptism of repentance and one of embracing Jesus Christ. While our reciting the Nicene Creed certainly affirms our beliefs, I am always pleased when we specifically renew our baptism vows. As a cradle Catholic, my parents and godparents affirmed that for me many years ago. Therefore, I love the opportunity to say these words myself and actively profess my faith.
In my prayer group, one aspect we address is the identification of our moments closest to God. These moments take many forms from feeling the presence of God in interactions with others (especially grandchildren!) to the wonder of every new flower in my garden (I sing them Christian music as I water them). Of course, as I have said so many times before, I feel the very real presence of the Holy Spirit so often through music. Perhaps it is the melodies or the rhythms that bring the scriptural words to life to touch my very soul. I wonder how the early disciples experienced it. Did they feel that glorious tingle throughout every cell of their being? Did their eyes brim with tears, as they were overwhelmed with feelings? Were they filled with joy and gratitude? We are told that they were able to speak in tongues and prophesize. Although I have never experienced such a consequence, I know I feel fortified and long to share the Good News. When I was a small child, it was the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost as we called it then) that I least understood. My childish views of God and his son, Jesus were at least something around which I could get my arms. The “Holy Ghost” was just too foreign a concept for me to comprehend then. Now, I pray “Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful” and it is, indeed, very real to me.
When I first reviewed these readings a few weeks ago, I mused at the responsorial psalm. Certainly we know that the psalms are songs, but I chuckled that my assignment would include, “Sing to God” – one of my favorite ways to receive and express my faith. A coincidence? No way! Just another God-incidence to inspire and sustain me.
The gospel ends with a wonderful message to keep in our hearts. Lately, it seems that many friends and family are struggling with a variety of challenges (life!). I hold them in my prayers, encourage them to pray, and if local, urge them to visit a healing garden in our area that has the most inviting statue of Jesus. There can be much comfort in all of these but mostly in the words of John’s gospel:
“In the world, you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
How can I keep from singing?
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