Are you filled with fear, or filled with the Spirit?
How can someone move beyond their fears? In today’s Gospel we
celebrate the Pentecost event “when the doors were locked, where the disciples
were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said
to them, “Peace be with you. … And when he had said this, he breathed on
them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
It is often difficult to not be afraid in the culture in which we live. Almost
every day there is a new study that reveals something new to fear. Scott
Bader-Saye, the author of Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear, states “We are
surrounded by fear just to the extent that we are surrounded by people who
profit from fear.” There seems to be a lot of money in the “fear business.” Bader-
Saye challenges Christians to place more trust in Jesus.
I found that his most perceptive examples often come from his reflections
on parenting. Young parents, especially, are prone to being persuaded
by people benefiting from keeping them in a state of fear about their children.
He warns, “What happens when we parent out of fear? We begin thinking
primarily about what we want to prevent and avoid rather than what we
want to encourage and develop … It is not enough to keep our children safe.
Their physical safety is a backdrop against which we … need to help them
discover the joy of living, the thrill of new experiences, a robust engagement
with the world around them, and a dynamic relationship with the God who
made them. All of this can easily be squelched when we parent out of fear.”
The Holy Spirit helps us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus in such a culture. The
Gifts of the Holy Spirit endow us with creative and bold ways to practice hospitality,
peacemaking, and generosity with an invigorating energy that lasts
longer than a Red Bull.
Pentecost is a celebration of the church’s birthday. The Holy Spirit is
the beginning source of this never-ending and ever-creating energy. It’s the
birthing of New Beginnings – busting out from behind locked doors. Yes - into
the same culture, but with a much different attitude! Pentecost is your spiritual
birthday! As with most birthdays- there are gifts. Today, we celebrate the
rekindling of our spiritual gifts given to us through Baptism and reconfirmed
with Confirmation. Due to our fears and insecurities, we sometimes find it’s
safer or easier to hide our gifts.
The author Marianne Williamson in her book, Return to Love, writes:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we
are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us
most. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and
famous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing
small does not serve the world…We are born to make manifest the glory
of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we
let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do
the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically
liberates others.” YES!
I believe this deserves much personal reflection and soul searching
regarding what we want from our lives. In last week’s Gospel, we heard what
Jesus wanted from life and his gratitude for what he received – namely that
we are one with God the Father as he is one. It’s all about being intimately
loved and united in Christ. He was grateful for his disciples. We too are God’s
gifts to Jesus. So, never be afraid to use your gifts. God has your back!
Do you see yourself as Gift & Gifted? Jesus’ dream for each of us is to
become today the best version of ourselves. But many of us lack the confidence
or the encouragement. So, today- give yourself a spiritual birthday
present–a spiritual makeover! Through the Pentecost celebration your life
becomes part of a Paschal transformation in which you are made into a gift
which is wrapped in love, tied by unity, and delivered by the word. Go now
in the Peace of Christ to Glorify the Lord with your life!
Peace Be with You!