Gospel John 20:19-23
On the evening of that first day of the week,
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."
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
"Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained."
"Receive the Holy Spirit."
I Love the Holy Spirit! I love Him greatly! How do we "Receive the Holy Spirit?" What does it mean to "Receive"? Jesus said to His disciples; "Receive the Holy Spirit" What does it mean to 'receive the Holy Spirit?' Is it a one time 'event', a one time 'reception', at my Baptism or Confirmation? Or is it rather an 'ongoing event'? Let us go to the first question, what does it mean to 'receive' a guest? When I think of receiving a treasured guest, I think of making things 'ready' for our guest by cleaning the convent, 'top to bottom', picking some fresh flowers from the grounds and putting them in a vase on the table. I think of brewing a fresh pot of hot coffee and making some homemade apple crisp or cookies. I think of making sure my habit is clean and mended and my hands are scrubbed. I think of the growing anticipation in my heart before the guest arrives and then the joy that wells up in the heart, when they cross over the doorway, and you greet them with a huge smile and hug. 'Receiving" them also means, a continued listening heart and presence to the guest. The Divine Office today in the Office of Readings speaks of this so beautifully: "It is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man's desire is to be worthy of it. " How do we make ready to 'receive' and 'welcome' the Holy Spirit-the third Person of the Blessed Trinity who is; The Counselor, the Comforter, The Advocate, the 'Ruah' (breath) of God, the Father of poor (the poor in spirit)? By our Openness, Vulnerability and Desire! These grow in the measure we know our own poverty and weakness, and our absolute dependence on God, we are then drawn closer to Him and that first step that He draws us in towards is reconciliation, (the Sacrament of Confession) which renders our hearts even more open and capable of receiving Him. It 'cleans our pipes" so to speak, and makes room for Him, in a sense creating space in order to receive Him more fully. By an ongoing openness and vulnerability we are made docile to His 'comings', to His voice, to His inspirations, His promptings. The other day in Mass, it struck me so much, when we were praying the Gloria, how we pray these words..."Receive our prayer", the word 'receive' involves openness. A mutual openness, between us and Him. A giving and receiving. In freedom and fullness. The more we are open and respond to His prompts of love and truth, compassion, encouragement etc... the more He gives, it is a mutual giving and receiving.
Examination of Conscience Point to ponder: Am I docile to the voice and promptings of the Holy Spirit? Do I allow the Holy Spirit to move me (Do I obey His Voice, Inspirations, prompts) in the direction of Forgiving? Loving? Giving? Comforting? Encouraging? Defending? Strengthening? To 'receive Him' is to allow Him to move my mind and heart, it is to heed His lead, it fills the heart with immense Peace. "In Him we live, we move, we have our Being" (Acts 17:28) To move under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is to move under the influence of Love, to live in Him, act in Him, love in Him, it is to allow Love to move us ,to direct us. It is to receive the Holy Spirit at each moment.
Two Prayers from the Missionaries of Charity
Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me
That every soul I come in contact with
May feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You the way You love best, by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words but by my example,
By the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.
Amen (Missionaries of Charity Prayer Book)
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
Breathe in me O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy, Act in me O Holy Spirit, that my work too may be holy. Draw my heart O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend all that is holy. Guard me then O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen (MC prayers)