The reflection for the weekend is not about the Fourth of July. Maybe Monday’s thoughts will be available. However, today I wish to put together a theme that incorporates words that I posted on Saturday morning’s “blog,” along with a link to the gospel for today and the words of St. Paul to the Romans.
The person of the Holy Spirit is important in our lives. Yet, because we are a people who, we might say, focus more on the concrete rather than what we might call the abstract or non-materialistic, I feel we overlook such a treasure in understanding what the Holy Spirit can do for us. So, here let’s try to better understand the Holy Spirit.
There was a 15th century Archbishop who became the leader of the Church in Milan, Italy. His name was Laurence Justian. Some years after his priestly ordination he was sent by the Holy See to Milan. In one of his sermons he wrote this sentence about Mary. I have incorporated these words because today/yesterday we celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Archbishop wrote these words that captured my attention. “How entirely blessed was the mind of the Virgin which, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, was always and in every way open to the power of the Word of God. She was not led by her senses, nor by her own will; thus she accomplished outwardly through her body what wisdom from within gave to her faith.” If you read Saturday’s blog, you might recognize the words.
We speak of the “indwelling of the Holy Spirit” many times during the year. Do we understand what that means? How would you present it to someone of another faith who might question you about the meaning of the phrase? Once some young person asked me during a Confirmation prep class this question: “Does it mean there is a small box inside my body where the Holy Spirit lives? I don’t feel him in me.”
For me Mary understood well what this special relationship is that we share with the Holy Spirit. According to the words of Archbishop Justian of Milan, Mary enjoyed a “blessed mind.” She had a mind that ‘listened’ to that inner voice, we sometimes call it. Mary’s mind was always open to the “power of the Word of God.” She possessed great wisdom, understanding, knowledge and so on. She did not rely upon her moods or her other senses to give her direction in her life. She took time to separate herself from the world around her. In moments of quiet and prayer she must have called upon the Holy Spirit for guidance. In my own heart I suspect Mary had a great relationship with the Holy Spirit. She would have to such an interaction with the Spirit to understand what God had given to her as her mission in life. What was this understanding, this relationship like? Or how can we humans best understand it?
Mary, as I noted, would find time for quiet. She would push aside all worries, all distractions and then begin to concentrate on what she was asked to do by the All-Powerful Father. She must have thought much on what the Holy Spirit was conveying to her through the thoughts that would come to her. As the Archbishop wrote, Mary accomplished outwardly the wisdom, the knowledge, she would come to understand was situated deeply within her mind, within her heart.
As St. Paul wrote to the Romans, “you are in the Spirit.” Catch that: Paul realized that there was something very special within us, within our mind, that enabled us to share in the wisdom and knowledge of God, the All-Powerful Creator. How do you think the Father reveals the “things” mentioned in today’s gospel? Jesus gives us an answer: “... for although you [Father] have hidden these things from the wise and learned, you have revealed them to little ones.” These “things” are so many of the mysteries most do not understand. But, to the “little one,” those who are able to separate themselves from much learning by simply sitting quietly and letting the Holy Spirit work in their minds with his power, these people have an insight into the power of the Holy Spirit.
What we need do is to take time to look at what seems so different to us. Clear all the junk from the mind, listen quietly while asking the
Holy Spirit to grant the great powers of the mind to you to understand how God wants you to live your life. Imagine if Mary had not become accustomed to opening up her heart, her mind, to the Holy Spirit. What would she have said when the angel asked her to become the mother of God’s son? Within her mind she had come to know and understand that God is All Powerful and that she, like all of us, was created by God and as his creation, she, again like us, shared some of the understanding, the wisdom, the knowledge (piety, counsel, fortitude) that is hers as it is ours because we have the Infinite Intelligence, the Holy Spirit, indwelling in us.
My reason for focusing our attention on these thoughts is simple: if we do come to understand how our minds, like Mary’s, can develop the awareness of the Holy Spirit and his power within our minds, we will become a people who are at peace with ourselves because we come to learn what God wants of us. The Holy Spirit is so much more than we ever think he is. Let’s not let this great treasure pass us by each day. We would lose so much if we did.