May 19, 2009
Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
By Beth DeCristofaro
Paul shouted out in a loud voice, "Do no harm to yourself; we are all here."… So (Paul) spoke the word of the Lord to (the jailer) and to everyone in his house. He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. (Acts 16:28-32)
Jesus said to his disciples: "Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. (John 16:5-7)
Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son, Hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your Love so that I may be wholly subject to you. We believe that when you dwell in us, you also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, Consoler of abandoned souls, and Protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me. Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, glory of the living, and hope of the dying. Lead me by your grace that I may always be pleasing to you. Amen. Saint Augustine of Hippo
St. Augustine asks a lot in his prayer, as Jesus would want him to – trust in the Advocate, Jesus says. He asks intercession from the Holy Spirit in order to “help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, support the wavering,” and also to be helped, strengthened and supported. Who, better than the Holy Spirit, the divine presence of God within us to give this help? Who better than you and I to accomplish this day to day as intermediaries for the Spirit? With the Spirit, with grace, we can see in our day to day reality the presence of Christ within everyone. The jailer was able to see beyond his job, beyond the dictates of his employer, beyond the potential problems with the leadership if his charges had escaped, to see and feel the power of the Word proclaimed by Paul. Paul interceded in the jailer’s despair: Paul shouted out in a loud voice, "Do no harm to yourself; we are all here."… then he and all his family were baptized at once. (Acts 16:28, 32)
Spirituality should be rooted in this indwelling Spirit and deeply effect our quality and style of living. Within the Spirit we are called and empowered to see through and deeply in order to perceive God everywhere. Augustine’s plea recognizes that our tepid response to God can be made stronger and purified through the Spirit. This is Jesus’ assurance to his friends. The Advocate will come to us.
Where am I tepid and overly cautious? Where can I better intercede on behalf of another, even someone with whom I do not necessarily agree, someone working for or sold out to the evil culture or who might be more powerful than I am? Do I mistake my interest in and advocacy for certain issues as the loving movement of the Spirit? Can I offer the Word of God through my loving words and actions in order that the Spirit reach another? Paul, without judging, loved a man who was his adversary. Do I love or do I divide?