Monthly Archives: May 2020

Do We Value the Holy Spirit?

“’No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” (1 Co. 2:9-10 NIV)

St. Paul says that no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God, but in the Holy Spirit, we may come to understand what God has freely given us – words taught not by human wisdom, but by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

In contrast, St. Paul also says that the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them because they must be spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2: 14)

The Holy Spirit gives me a sense of belonging to God – a feeling of security, knowing that the God of all creation is my Father. He is not distant and out of reach. He has made himself available to me by becoming one of us through his son, Jesus, the Messiah. I can see how much he loves me by how he sacrificed his life through the tortuous death of Roman crucifixion. His Spirit gives me the desire to overcome my selfish nature, and love and serve my wife, family and others as much as I am inclined serve myself.

The Holy Spirit helps me to understand that I am to be a good steward of the responsibilities and circumstances in my life, including family, work, and relationships with others. He has taught me to have courage and trust in God when faced with the life threatening illness of cancer, the family challenge of a disabled child or the circumstances that threaten a presumed career path.

The Spirit gives us knowledge and understanding in our perspectives, conduct and relationships. He enables us to see the natural order of God’s creation. Some people see conflict between science and faith, but the Spirit shows us that science is simply the discovery of the mysteries of creation.

How remarkable! Who can equal God’s love for us and the gift of the Holy Spirit which is our enabler in love, wisdom and truth?

I once read that the contrast between living life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and not doing so is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.

Jesus said, “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13)

As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost this week, are you experiencing the personal presence of God the Father and God the Son enabled by the gift of the Holy Spirit?

Searching for Fine Pearls

“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Matthew 13:45-46)

These are words from one of Jesus’ parables describing what the kingdom of God is like. The fine pearl is Jesus.

Are we willing to sell everything we have to acquire a friendship with Jesus? Selling everything may include giving up old ways and acquiring new ones. Changing our focus from self to others, finding balance between career and family, stepping back from gossip, listening more and talking less are just a few examples.

Throughout human history, people have been searching for meaning and purpose for their lives. Even ancient civilizations seemed to sense that there had to be more to life than food, shelter and clothing. Their observations of the natural world around them indicated a power and force greater than themselves.

In my mid-thirties, I met Jesus in a new and personal way. Many of my priorities began to change, particularly with respect to balancing the demands of career and family. Previously, career had often taken precedence. One aspect accompanying the focus on career was joining work colleagues at a local watering hole after work on Fridays instead of going home and having dinner with my family. After a new relationship with Jesus, I gave up this practice. Then several months later I joined the group once again. Since I had been very open in sharing about my renewed faith, one colleague sarcastically asked, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here.” I said, “You’re right,” turned around and left, never to join them again.

If the pearl is friendship with Jesus and coming to know God, then there are also some new things we might want to consider. Friendships don’t just happen without time together and coming to know the person involved. Previously, my time in prayer was confined to Sundays at mass or saying grace at meals. Subsequently, God gave me a desire to spend time with him every day, and I changed my schedule to spend about 30 minutes with him every morning before breakfast. Over the last 40 years, we have been meeting for coffee nearly every morning. Previously, I hardly ever read the Bible. Now it is a part of each day’s prayer time. While I am still a sinner, reading Scripture daily helps me come to know God better and take on the mind of his Son.

The irony in all of this is that the things I gave up that I thought were a sacrifice at the time do not now seem to have much importance. Instead, as the parable says, there is great joy in finding the treasure.

Are you willing to sell all that you have to find the pearl of great price, Jesus?

Are We Good Tenants?

“A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and then went on a journey for a long time.” (Luke 20:9)

Jesus had just entered Jerusalem in a triumphal way. He had cleared the temple of the moneychangers and was teaching in the temple courts. A few days earlier, he had raised Lazarus from the dead. The chief priests and elders were challenging Jesus and asking by what authority he was doing all of these things. Jesus responds with the parable of the tenants (Luke 20:9-19), which may be viewed as follows:

A man planted a vineyard – God created all that exists.

The man rented the vineyard to some tenant farmers – God entrusts creation to us and gives us dominion over it with the specific instruction “to cultivate and take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15)

At harvest time he sent his servants and subsequently his son to collect some of the fruit, but the tenants beat the servants and killed the son, claiming the vineyard for themselves. Just as the tenants attempted to claim ownership of the vineyard, so has the human race attempted to claim ownership of creation, denying the creator and determining for itself what is right and wrong, true or false.

The response of the vineyard owner was harsh. He killed the tenants and gave the vineyard to others. The chief priests and elders realized Jesus was talking about them.

What kind of tenants are we of the responsibilities God has entrusted to us? He gives each of us a lease of time in this physical world with varying durations. He entrusts us with various talents. He puts people in our lives. He has a job or work that is to be our contribution to taking care of his creation. He expects some fruit to come from his lease to us. For me and many of us, any review of our lives will likely produce a mixed report with both positive and negative fruit.

Recently I was rereading a book of letters our adult children had put together from family and friends to celebrate a particular birthday of mine a few years ago. In the letters from the children were various memories of when I spent time with them while they were young, playing a game, taking a hike, building something, making a trail through the woods or sharing some advice which they had requested of me. Most of these moments I had forgotten, but they had not. While I may not have realized it then, these times given to me by God in my lease from him were bearing fruit, and may have contributed in some small way to where our children are today, all Christian adults with families of their own and bearing fruit in their turn.

Time, spouse, children, work, friends, ministry and faith — all are part of the lease God gives to each of us. All are precious seeds waiting to bear fruit for the Lord under our tenancy.

Reflect on what kind of tenant you have been of God’s lease to you. Are there any changes you would like to make going forward?