Meditation by Fr Michael Hollings
THERE are terrible times when I feel in utter despair about myself and most other people. I can understand the tears of Christ as he weeps over Jerusalem.
I can feel for him when he says: "I have come to cast fire upon the earth; would that it were I kindled." And worst of all, I know why he was rejected and why it is so easy for me and you to reject him.
Just before writing this, I had a letter from a Dutch bishop commending a book I wrote called "Living Priesthood." Among other things, he said: "1 fully agree with your ideas, though sometimes perhaps demanding too much from an average priest. But I agree we should not be 'average ." Isn't that just our trouble and the sadness of Jesus? He has not called us to be "average", has called us to be perfect. We, of course. are sensible to say: "That is beyond ME. But we arc stupid to say: "That is beyond Jesus."
When he returned to his Father in Heaven, Jesus promised to send the One who•could and would fill us with power from on high.
We are celebrating the Church's reminder to you and me (who are the Church) that the Holy
Spirit is still "poured out" on us. This is no mere historical miracle which we can sit and admire from a distance, totally disconnected. The Spirit poured out in BaptismConfirmation remains alive in us always and all the time, even though we can try to smother, ignore or deny His presence.
As St Paul writes to the Ephesians: "Out of his infinite glory, may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong, so that Christ may live in your hearts through faith ..." (Ephesians 3:14.) Much of what the charismatic presence in the Church today is urging is that each and every one of us place ourselves under the power of God, so that the Spirit brings Christ alive in our hearts.
Much of the cause for me getting into despair and tears is because I and others are so cautious and shut-in. From top leaders to the humblest people praying in a pew our watchword seems to say: "Be careful!"
For those who arc anxious and feel a certain absoluteness and exclusive element among the charismatically-called brethen let me say: The Spirit moves where He will. He may or may not call you to what can be recognised as charismatic.
He may or may not group you, give you the gift of tongues or of healing. That is up to Him. If you can say with full commitment ... "Here I am, Lord. Your servant is listening, and is open to what YOU want" ... then he has the power.
But he is also in the stillness, the emptiness, the abandonment, the desolation, the Crudfixion. He can speak to and through you. He can be silent witness to and through you. Ile is not exclusive; he does not have only one way of working: He is infinite and beyond our imagination. He can confound the wise, bring down the mighty, raise the lowly — turn the world upside-down, or leave it whirling in its steady orbit.
Jesus left the disciples and Mary when he returned to his Father at the Ascension, and "all these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including the M,other of Jesus and with his brothers". (Acts 1:14).
From this we can think what was in their own minds and hearts at this time. We are told they were "full ol joy"; we can suggest they waited in faith and trust; hope surely was dominant. And then "they were filled with the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:4) On our celebration of Pentecost should reflect all these elements — some of which are surely missing from much of dur nraver and worship. Then, in deep confidence, we allow in ourselves freedom for the Spirit to be at work..
It is important to stress the freedom given by each of us. because the greatest wonder of God's love is the freedom He gives to each of us. If we — freely, humbly, joyfully, hopefully trust in the power of the Spirit of Jesus living in our hearts through faith — then on the one hand do not be surprised if through you he moves mountains— and on the other hand do not be surprised if he keeps you waiting!
Time is God's, not ours, What is important is that you and I should be ready for His gift NOW.