Being open to the Holy Spirit

Failure, shame, regret, are just some of the burdens we’re all familiar with. ‘Speak with someone today’ says a website for women suffering from domestic violence and there’s a number to ring. Speak with someone, so that we don’t end up isolated, with no one to turn to.

As did an asylum seeker recently when two St Vinnies people visited her to give her some vouchers. There was nothing else they could do, but she began to tell her story, to briefly lay down her burden, so they pulled up a chair and listened. They sat with her there, in that moment the three of them becoming human together.

In that moment, almost unawares, they began to know God more intimately. It wasn’t of their doing but they were open to it. It’s grace, in this instance, acting through this woman. It’s how the Spirit works in our lives. In the gospel these are the simple truths which Jesus praises the Father for having revealed to his disciples and we begin to realise that we’re not the ones in the know, we’re the little ones, like children, in this.

So, we begin to know the Father more intimately through being drawn into relationship with Jesus; by shouldering his yoke and learning from him. It’s a little like a trainer whose task is to help get you fitter and subsequently feel more alive. The reason we do it is to get fitter, or to better contribute to a team, but then we discover we’re better able to contribute to the building up of the local church, week by week drawn into being part of something bigger.

In the second reading Paul affirms that it’s not through our own efforts that we’re able to do this. It’s only as we learn what it is to be human from Jesus, that we begin to know the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives; and through Jesus we come to know the Father.

Again, something like this happened with the St Vinnies visitors. They found it’s the Spirit that will give life to our ‘mortal bodies’. Turning away from the love of God, is to turn towards what will be our undoing – as Paul says, away from life towards death. 

As ever, the choice is ours.  Being open to the Spirit in our lives we begin to realise we’re not on our own, but that Jesus is alongside us, is with us, helping to lift our burdens, shouldering the yoke as he takes the lead, and we’re no longer exhausted through trying to save ourselves.

For, as we hear in the first reading, this king comes riding on a donkey, not a war-horse, proclaiming peace. He has entered into our failure and shame, into the stuff of our lives, and in him we will find rest and re-creation for whatever lies ahead.  In the words of the psalm, ‘How good is the Lord to all’. 

Damian Coleridge

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