The Child and the Spirit

…The warrior was gone, the boy called out to him but heard no answer. He ran back the way they had come together, but there was no trace of the valiant companion. The boy then entered the school bathroom and looked at himself in the mirror. He fixed his hair like his warrior’s and returned to the gym. The two classmates who had teased him earlier were still there shooting at the basket. He walked toward them resolutely, covering the distance that separated them with the courage of one who is ready for anything; he looked into the eyes of the taller of the two. He embraced him with the strength of forgiveness, then took the ball from the hands of the disbelieving boy and hit the basket: one-nil. He let the ball drop and headed for the exit. He had won. He was a new person now — he and his warrior together…. (from the official video of “Guerriero” by the Italian singer, Marco Mangoni)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me

to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Jesus said these words of himself, reading the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown. We know that it did not turn out well: his own people did not believe him and it almost seemed as if they might be done with him that day…

Despite their disbelief, Jesus truly fulfilled these words. As written by Peter, “He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts, 10:38). The words of Isaiah took flesh in him because the Spirit of God was within him.

The story continues after the death of Jesus, even after the Resurrection. The signs of a divine and not merely human Presence continue in an unbroken sequence of witnesses. An endless array of heralds of the good news, of proclaimers of deliverance and healing. Witnesses and heralds made up of people on par with you and me. People who believed the Holy Spirit was more than a comic book superhero, that he is a real person who takes “possession” of human freedom and makes ordinary people work great miracles of good. These witnesses carrying the Holy Spirit within them also make these words written by Isaiah and referring to Christ become “flesh.”

We need only open the Acts of the Apostles to see what the early followers of Jesus were able to achieve: healings, conversions, enlightened speech, unwavering perseverance and faith, courage in the face of all kinds of adversity… it is enough to read the lives of the Saints to see that the Holy Spirit truly exists and is at work in human history.

After all, what is a Saint? It is one who is filled with the Holy Spirit; one who has the courage to surrender themselves completely to the guidance of the Person given to them in Baptism as a “fellow traveler,” as an “alter ego.”

For us, the good news is that there is no difference between the Saints and us. The Spirit is given to us in the same way: without reserve, in abundance. God is not jealous of what belongs to him, nor is he stingy. He gives to us just as he gave to the Saints.

The only difference might be our response. In a given moment, which spirit will we respond to? The Holy Spirit or the evil spirit? As we have seen in the course of this year’s reflections, both knock at our door, wanting to enter, but they each bring opposite effects.

Therefore, all we have left to do is to plead with strength, with faith, with courage, even when the evidence of our sins seems to tell us that it is useless to keep asking for help, “May the Holy Spirit come.” Indeed, may this Spirit, who is already present in us, get the better of our fears and remind us that where there is love there is no fear.

We must and will invoke this Spirit with the confidence of the child who keeps asking until he obtains and is convinced that he obtains precisely because he is a child. In this confidence, we discover ourselves children with our small hand placed in the Spirit’s strong one, and our small ears attentive to catch his voice that whispers, as one does with precious secrets, the way of Life.

That of the Spirit is a new Life. It is not crushed by the weight of the self-preservation instinct of our limited nature. Such an instinct leads inexorably to selfishness and prevarication. Rather this new Life  opens itself to others with ever-renewed trust, because it knows that nothing can annihilate it. This Life finds us victorious always, because the Spirit is God and does not die.

In the fullness of time, we were given a Child who was filled with the Holy Spirit: The Son of God made Man. Therefore, on the threshold of Christmas, the best wish we can make for each other is that we might allow ourselves to be embraced by this same Spirit, as open and docile as the God Child.

Suggested concrete resolution:

In order to prepare for Christmas, I will pray the sequence to the Holy Spirit every day during the month of December:

Come Holy Spirit, send us a ray of your light from Heaven.

Come, Father of the poor, come Giver of all gifts, come Light of all hearts.

Perfect Consoler, sweet Guest of our souls, most sweet Help.

In our tiredness give us rest, in the heat give us shade, in our tears give us solace.

O most Blessed Light, invade the hearts of all the faithful.

Without your strength nothing is good in us, nothing is without fault.

Wash what is dirty, bathe what is arid, heal what is hurting.

Make soft what is rigid, warm what is cold, straighten what is crooked.

Give to all who trust in you your holy gifts.

Give virtue and all good.

Give a holy death, give eternal joy. Amen.

This month’s meditation is by Sr. Michela, AVI.

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