Holy Spirit Interactive in the Family
by Fr. Peter deSousa
How do we allow the Holy Spirit to interact with us everyday in our family relationships? We believe that he is really present in our hearts and lives. Outside of prayer time, how often are we aware of his loving, gentle presence? How much do we allow him to interact with us through each other? God is love and where there is love, there is God. The sacred life-giving love of spouses and parents is a sacramental sign of God's presence and creative action. When two or more are gathered together in Jesus' name, he is in their midst. Is this not true when spouses, parents and children are gathered together in Jesus' name?
The Holy Spirit is a real person, a Divine person, a gentle person who never forces himself on us. As we come to know him better and acknowledge our need for him, we will listen to his gentle inspirations. We will allow him to transform us, empower us and act through our weaknesses too. He loves each one of us as we are and in the state of life in which God calls us.
As husbands and wives, as parents and children, as friends and neighbors, we constantly interact with each other. The Holy Spirit is present in these interactions and wants to be a part of these interactions. He is the Lord and Giver of life, our Teacher, Advocate, Helper, Comforter and Indwelling God. Will we allow Him entry? Remember the key is from the inside of the door. We have to open our hearts and our family relationships to him everyday.
Mother Mary gathered together with the Believers in prayer, awaiting the gift Jesus' Father promised them. This gift was the Holy Spirit with whom they would be baptized. (Acts1:4; Lk 24:49) Baptism means immersion. It meant being saturated with the Holy Spirit and immersed in His love. They would then be able to powerfully witness to Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles tell us of the transformation that took place in these believers.
The group of frightened men in a room with doors locked for fear of the Jews ( Jn 20:19) would be transformed into fearless witnesses, as they allowed the Holy Spirit to guide, inspire and act in and through them.(Acts 5:41)
We may not be frightened men in a room with doors locked, but all of us have certain life experiences or are in situations, where we are wary, defensive, on our guard, or not totally free. So we are held back from witnessing to Jesus in the freedom of the children of God, that the Holy Spirit brings.
The Holy Spirit of God never forces himself on us. He respects our freedom to invite him to come upon us. We need to humbly and prayerfully await his coming. All of us have been anointed by the Holy Spirit at our Baptism and confirmation. But do we often behave as though there is no Holy Spirit.(Acts 19:2) Do we rely on our own prayers or pious practices and so find that we cannot bear witness to Jesus effectively? Do we only pay lip service to the Gospel? Are we really the disciples of Jesus in the way we live everyday? Do others recognize Jesus in us?
Pentecost was a time of the gift of the Holy Spirit being fanned into a flame, rekindled, and kept alive so that we may bear witness to the Gospel with the strength that comes from God (2 Tim 1:6). It is He who saved us and calls us everyday to be his hands and voice in the home, neighborhood and world in which we live. We can celebrate the anniversary of an event. But we can also allow that event to re-occur in our lives everday and have an effect on us.
Calvary took place once. But every time we celebrate the Eucharist, we are enabled to join in the sacrifice of Jesus.
The effects of the Pentecost event, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are many. One of them is seen in the first community described in Acts 2:42-47. Let us invite the Holy Spirit to show us how we can make the Pentecost event a recurring time of renewal and reawakening of the Spirit in our hearts, minds, lives and in the atmosphere of our "little, family churches".
Let us request the Holy Spirit to teach our minds and hearts how to be faithful to the Word of God and the teachings of the Church? I am not talking merely about the letter of the law but especially the spirit enshrined in it.
How do we show a concern for every member of the family, including those who work for us? How do we share in their lives? Do we treat only the "Jews or Greeks" among us as our brothers? Are we able to accept those who are different as our brothers and sisters?
When do we recognize Jesus' presence in the home? Is it only at the time of prayer? Is he the unseen guest at our table? Is our family meal the liturgy of our domestic church, where we recognize him in the breaking of bread? Is it a time of thanksgiving for all the blessings we receive? While we nourish our bodies with food do we also nourish our minds and hearts by sharing with each other? Do we share our meal sometimes with those who do not have a family? The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to recognize Jesus in others and he makes it possible for us to be channels of Jesus' love, presence and kindness to others.
How do we pray together daily as a couple and as a family to praise, thank, petition and listen to what God is saying to us, both through His word and through each other?
With whom, how and when, do we as a couple and family share with great joy and simplicity of heart?
How does our coming together to pray, work, and share make us effective witnesses to Jesus, so that those we meet, are attracted to join us?
How and when do we reach out to the least of Jesus' brothers and sisters in the power of the Spirit?
What divisions are there among us, as Spouses or members of a family, that need to be healed, so that we may be united by the Spirit of God?
When we face difficulties, struggles, misunderstandings and temptations, do we turn to the Holy Spirit for grace and strength to overcome or live with them?
How can we constantly invite the Holy Spirit, to be our Helper, Teacher of God's Word, Comforter, Advocate, Energizer, Evangelizer, Source of our prayer-life, Unifier?
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