Saturday, June 7, 2014

June 8, 2014: Pentecost Sunday A

When you were a teenager, how well did you obey your parents’ instructions? Did you ever tell your parents that you were going to do one thing but ended up doing something they wouldn't approve of? A mother shared her recent experience with her 9th grade daughter. Her daughter and few friends were going to the movies. Before she left, the mother told her daughter that she should not go see certain movies. The daughter replied to her mom that her friends wanted to see a PG-13 science fiction movie involving robot boxers. About 20 minutes after her daughter was dropped off at the movies, the mother got a call from from her daughter to come back and pick her up. When the mother picked her up, the daughter explained that after buying the tickets her friends decided to go in and see a R-rated movie involving a demon-possessed house. The daughter told her friends that she could not go see that movie because she did not want to betray her mom’s trust.

If we look back in our lives, have we made some foolish mistakes that we are not proud of? Perhaps in making those mistakes we may have betrayed the trust of our loved ones and God. Were there some occasions we wished we would have prayed and asked for the guidance of the Holy Spirit before we just impulsively jumped in? If we carefully recall those mistakes, we may discover that the Holy Spirit was prompting us, all along, to choose to be God’s instrument of love and do the right thing. Yet in the heat of the moment--out of pride, human respect, impatience, anger, lust, laziness, or greed--we acted contrary to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

It’s an understatement to say that our parents and grandparents worry about how our children will navigate through this world. We can, to a certain extent, try to protect and guide them, but once they are out of our house we can only hope and pray that our children will make the right choices. Heavenly Father knew this dilemma from the very beginning as He created each one of us.  He knew that we needed an advocate, a counselor, and a guide to lead us, even when we are away from our loved one’s supervision.

On Pentecost, God gave his very self to us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is no longer outside of us, but resides inside of each of us at the very center of ourselves. And from there, the Holy Spirit pours out the gift that the Heavenly Father desires for us to have. Most importantly the Holy Spirit guides us to encounter Jesus, to a deeper communion with Jesus. However, the gifts of the Holy Spirit must be exercised.  

This was demonstrated by the 9th grader I mentioned at the beginning. She was using several gifts of the Holy Spirit she received from her baptism to guide her to make the right choice. She exercised the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom, which is the gift of knowing the right choices to make to live a holy life. Using that gift allowed her to avoid the things that could lead her away from God. Can you imagine what kind of images and dreams she would struggle with had she seen a movie filled with demons, graphic violence, profanities, and sexual situations? She also exercised the gift of courage to stand up to her friends about what is the right thing to do.

A movie rated R means that an adult is allowed to watch. Yet, should we, adults, also exercise the Holy Spirit’s gift of wisdom and courage to avoid filling our adult minds with images, situations, and language that lead us astray from God’s peace? Think of a movie, a late-night talk show, or a book you read recently. Did it produce in your spirit a love for others, joy, peace, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, self-control, modesty, and chastity? We must be vigilant in discerning the spirit behind what we consume through our eyes, ears, and imagination. The evil one is always lurking around to destroy the peace and joy that we experience in being in the presence of Christ.

Each of us has received the precious gifts of the Holy Spirit from the Heavenly Father. What good are those gifts if we keep them locked up in the attic and let them gather dust? We must open the gifts and carry the spirit of God through the world in our very being. We must bring the light of Christ wherever we go. We must be the sign of love and cooperation between man and the holy forces at work in the world. Will we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us so that all will come to know Our Lord’s love?