June 1, 2011
Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr
By Colleen O’Sullivan
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)
Day by day
Day by day
Oh dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day
(from “Day by Day,” Godspell)
Three years traveling the countryside with Jesus, and what do his disciples truly understand about his mission and ministry? Not nearly enough. Jesus has told them more than once how his life on earth will end, but now that it’s actually time to say goodbye, he sees that they are frightened and a bit overwhelmed. There is so much more he would like to tell them, but they are not in a frame of mind that would allow them to take in more. Once again, he reminds them that when he is gone, he will send the Spirit of Truth to guide them in continuing the work he has begun.
Just as it was for Jesus’ first followers, discipleship is a process for us as well. We have the Scriptures, we have the tradition and teachings of the Church, but we, too, need to be guided by the Holy Spirit to discover anew each day what shape discipleship will take for us individually. Where is our journey with the Lord taking us today? Open to the working of the Spirit in us, we continually gain new insights into our faith, we deepen our relationship with the Lord, and we are empowered to go forth in Jesus’ name to proclaim the Word and show Christ’s love to our brothers and sisters.
Discipleship is seldom ever a straight line process. When I look back over my life, there have been times of intense spiritual growth and there have been periods of “maintaining the spiritual status quo,” so to speak. Throughout the Easter season, “America” magazine has offered a video series on the symbols of the season. In the most recent one, “In the Wind,” Francis Hezel, S.J., talks about the working of the Spirit. He says that the Spirit is like the wind in our lives – sometimes nothing more than a gentle breeze, other times coming out of nowhere in sharp gusts, and even once in a while hitting us with the force of a hurricane. (You can view the video at http://www.americamagazine.org/content/video/video-index.cfm?series_id=1253. Scroll down to the last video.)
When you have a few quiet moments, reflect on your spiritual journey. Can you see where the Holy Spirit has been at work? Very definitely the Spirit transformed the lives of those frightened, troubled followers Jesus was facing in today’s Gospel. They were able to go out and build the Church in Jesus’ name. The Spirit can do great things in our lives as well. Where might the Holy Spirit be leading you today?