When I was growing up I really struggled with this idea of the Holy Spirit. Actually it is not an idea or a concept, the Holy Spirit is a person. That really made my struggle worse. I struggled to define, describe or identify who the Holy Spirit is. Wiser and older Catholics simply said, “Just believe”! So for me then faith was a book of knowledge and blind belief.
A tongue of fire descended on me one day; a ‘eureka!’ moment. I was involved in the parish RCIA program firmly believing that the best way to make new Catholics was simply to teach, pass on facts, retain facts, convert facts into belief and be baptized. My mentor made the class do a simple exercise. “Name the characteristics that will make a good Catholic”. Many, many traits were named mostly characterizing love in action. On the entire whiteboard, prominently missing was the word ‘knowledge’. That moment, a small fire started in me.
I was graced with a spirit of wisdom. I am sure many of you already had this wisdom but I didn’t. I still look back at that moment to say that the conversion of my mind was the work of the Holy Spirit. It was a simple moment of realization, yet complex in its effect. I was suddenly ‘won over’ and a desire started to burn within me about evangelizing in the reality of people’s life; to make God real for others. Accompanying that new found wisdom was excitement and determination. The Holy Spirit hath cometh for me.
It is impossible to define or describe the Holy Spirit in words. He is beyond words. Something inside stirs. It is not intrusive but it won’t let go, yet gentle. It is trying to inspire you to move in a different direction. It patiently waits. There will be sudden moments when total conviction set in. And emotions kick in. The Holy Spirit is always an emotional experience, unreal, surreal and real all at the same time. I felt my calling.
Evangelization cannot happen in a classroom. It takes place in this reality of our personal life. Each of us will only see the relevance of God in this context. Knowledge alone has less traction. The love that is God is found in the chapters of our life stories. He is there in between the lines, sometimes difficult to see in the events that happened to us. Today is Pentecost. A fire will come into us gently nudging us to go evangelize by sharing our lives with one another and to help see God in the difficult chapters.
Every person is different, very different like you and me. But the second reading says the Holy Spirit is, “working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them”. We are sent into this difference, to speak in their own language. We do not bring words but love in action. We are instruments of the Holy Spirit; we are the realities of this world called to bring the reality of God into their world.
One of the most powerful form of evangelization is to be vulnerable and share honestly and deeply about our challenges and hurts. And how an encounter of love and with love through other people led us into healing and hope. This is a language that will bring out the hidden God in our difficult chapters.
And there is today a small tongue of fire coming within us for this. “We hear them preaching in our own language about the marvels of God”. Fan it.