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23 June 2020

APRIM message: Movements of the Holy Spirit

Several weeks ago, the Church celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’…

Several weeks ago, the Church celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ closest disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2). They were gathered in a room, somewhat afraid of their plight, as they had seen the risen Christ ascend and knew the task of evangelising – spreading the Good News – was theirs. They may have known the fate that ultimately awaited them, given their witness to Jesus’ Passion (anguish, torture, humiliation and Crucifixion). This was certainly something to fear, and to overcome this fear required a great faith – a level of faith that could only be possible through being witness to the Resurrection. But it also required inspiration, and this inspiration came from the third person of the Trinity: The Holy Spirit. This inspiration in turn inspired others – the Holy Spirit worked through them, as all true disciples are instruments of God’s grace.

Movements of the Holy Spirit are the grace of God. Such graces are varied in their type and context. They may be the inner voice that drives one forward through the most difficult time or toward their life vocation. They may be the sad but deeply spiritual experience of the passing of a loved one. Equally so, the birth of one’s own child. They can be the humbling experience of complete forgiveness, given or received. Grace permeates the experience of love for the first time, the blossoming of a friendship or the unity of a marriage.

Grace is the awe in creation that happens every day, providing deep joy for the child, but often overlooked by the adult. A full moon, butterflies, dolphins, rainbows, colourful flowers, hail, dust-storms, stars, thunder, sharks, sunsets, horses, etc. It is the joy of learning. It is the joy of teaching. It is generosity, for the gift freely given is a message of God’s love for the recipient, and an affirmation for the giver that God’s grace works through them. It is the realisation that you are graced: how infinitely pacifying it is. Jesus himself is a grace of God at the same time as being God, as is The Holy Spirit. How empty would life be without the grace of God?

In recognition of Reconciliation Week, which spanned Pentecost, this Aboriginal artwork by Charlene Carrignton, entitled The Pentecost, depicts the event.

God is a mystery, and the short list of graces I’ve just stated are a testament to that. How can grace be in both the joy of birth and the anguish of death? We are innately called to wrestle with such questions, and there is a myriad of them that we should ask. We should then seek the truth, and perhaps surrender to the mystery (if that is completely possible). The word Israel literally means ‘to wrestle with God’. What an incredible, yet ancient wisdom. Christians should ‘Israel’ all the time, given we are essentially Jewish believers in Christ. Jesus even wrestled with God; for example, in the garden of Gethsemane before His arrest, and even on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). We know the glory that follows this wrestling because Jesus showed us. This glory is the ultimate mysterious grace.

Pentecost ends the Easter Season and we enter Ordinary Time in the Church calendar. Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Advent and Christmas are not ‘ordinary’ times, but the day-to-day life examples of God’s grace indicate that no time is ‘ordinary’. We just have to remind ourselves of the presence of God in the ‘ordinary’, just as a child does without reminders. The best way to do this is through regular prayer.

Recently, about 15 Year 12s devoted about an hour of their time to spend with students from the ELC and Junior Primary in their classes. They interacted with them in a variety of ways, such as reading, games, experiments and demonstrations. The accompanying pictures show these interactions. I visited them to see how it was going and I observed two movements of The Holy Spirit.

The first were the interactions: the humble, loving and surrendering nature of the young student in simply being themselves, and the old student rediscovering something of themselves. Theologian Karl Rahner asserted that children are much closer to the mystery of God in their innocence, and that our aging – even through the teen years – should be an act of searching to recapture this closeness with God. The young child’s wisdom is their innate knowledge that God is with them, and we all carry this right throughout our lives, with many failing to contemplate it, or worse – rejecting it. For this reason, Rahner places an emphasis on the formation of mysticism as it is deeply spiritual and elicited from and founded in prayer.

The second was the observation of Year 1 teacher Jessica Macolino, overwhelmed with joy at one of her student’s progress as he was now able to read, despite not knowing the alphabet just a few months ago. The Holy Spirit was moving in her joy, just as it had through her interactions with this child so as to inspire his striving.

As we hear, watch or read the news, it can be hard to see God’s grace at work. Rest assured though, as St Paul said in Romans 5:20 – “where sin abounds, grace abounds more”. Lets us pray for more people to be instruments of God’s grace, and for the angry and violent to seek peace in Christ. Let us pray that we can see the many movements of The Holy Spirit in our lives each day.

Matthew Crisanti

Assistant Principal, Religious Identity & Mission