By Deacon Mike Seibert
CONNECTING FAITH AND LIFE
What Did You Expect?
We just celebrated Pentecost; ho hum, right? After the 50 days of Easter Season, it’s hard to muster up enthusiasm for yet another high feast. Don’t feel bad. It’s normal; but it doesn’t have to be.
Know what happened right after the Holy Spirit came on the apostles at Pentecost? Three thousand people became Christians. That must’ve been an amazing homily to convert 3,000 people! The Apostles’ hearts were on fire. They had enthusiasm and conviction, and there was a joy, hope and power about them beyond explanation.
That doesn’t just happen. Think about yourself; do we come to church expecting something amazing and life-changing to happen? If we’re honest, we kind-of expect the same thing to happen each week. That doesn’t take away from the miracle of the Eucharist, but it does point to that fact that we – or, I can at least speak for myself – I don’t really expect God to perform any miracles when I come to Mass. Do you?
St. Bonaventure said the Spirit comes, “where He is loved, where He is Invited, and where He is expected.”
What did Jesus say would happen when we receive the Holy Spirit? He said, “you will receive power”! You will receive power! Did you get power yet? Look around the pews of your church. Do you see anybody around you who has that power? He also said, “whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.” So let me get a show of hands - how many people have raised anybody from the dead? How many have healed a blind man by smearing mud on his eyes? Fed 5,000 with just a couple of fish? Turned water into wine without grapes?
Why aren’t you and I doing the same kinds of deeds - and greater? I propose that we don’t experience the power because we don’t expect it.
Say I give you a Portable Battery Pack; would you be excited? Maybe not. Maybe you don’t know what it is - what it’s capable of - or even how to turn it on. What if I explained that this Battery Pack is capable of jump-starting your truck- multiple times, or recharging your phone for a week? Are you excited yet? Maybe a little, I suspect; but you still haven’t seen the power.
The Apostles received the Holy Spirit in the Gospel on Easter evening, 50 days before Pentecost! What happened in those 50 days? Not much; they huddled together in the upper room, scared and praying.
Until Pentecost; Wow! A noise arose like a violent, rushing wind; fire came from heaven; their hearts were set ablaze, and they were propelled into the streets proclaiming the good news. They were on fire! Why? Because they had plugged in to the Holy Spirit. Remember, they had the Spirit for 50 days already; but until they plugged in, it made little difference.
We received the Holy Spirit at Baptism, but we’re still not doing greater deeds than Jesus. What’s missing?
We need to plug in. How?
One day, a parishioner crossed my mind. Nothing special about that; but this time, I thought, “Hmmm; wonder why that person came to mind right now?” So I asked the Holy Spirit, “Do you have a message for this lady?” She wasn’t in her office, so I left a message of what I felt God wanted to tell her. She called in tears explaining she’d had a particularly stressful week, and that message was exactly what she needed to hear that day! We ended up talking for two hours. The Holy Spirit knew she needed to talk.
When we pay attention to those simple promptings of the Spirit, God can do amazing things for the people around us! When you and I experience the power of the Spirit, our hearts are set on fire.
All we gotta do is plug in - then expect something big to happen.