Jesus provides a continuous invitation to us. He says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20)
I recently came across a beautiful reflection from St. Augustine about how he had put God off for many years, and then he reflects:
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!
You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created.
You were with me, but I was not with you.
You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness.
You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness.
You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.
I have tasted you; now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I
burned for your peace. (The Confessions of St. Augustine, Book Ten, XXVII)
While I will never attain the depth of Augustine’s spirituality and wisdom, I relate to his early struggles in resisting God’s invitations to have a personal and intimate relationship with him. In my early adult years, while there were times when I would experience a whiff of God’s special fragrance, I kept him at arm’s length for the most part. This was particularly true when it came to moving forward in my career as a young attorney. I allowed myself to be influenced more by the ways of the world than the ways of God.
Then one October evening, through God’s grace and the influence of my wife and other spirit-filled Christian friends, I met Jesus in a way I had never experienced before – just the two of us in the solitude of his presence and gentle love. In response to a suggestion from a priest who was celebrating mass, I asked him to take the sin and mixed priorities in my life, and before I could finish the request, he responded with an affirmation that words are inadequate to describe.
It was a watershed moment. If you ask my wife, she will tell you that from that point forward all my priorities began to change. Jesus gave me a new thirst for reading scripture and spending time daily with him. He gave me a new love for the Church and his sacraments, and a desire to share his presence with others. Yes, I am still capable of failing him, but repentance follows.
Like Augustine, we thank you, Lord, for breaking through our deafness, for dispelling our blindness and breathing the fragrance of your Spirit on us.
Have you opened the door to Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit in your life?
Thanks Bill! I just read this today and I found it refreshing and enlightening. I’d just been reflecting on the “Veni Sancte Spiritus” since we practiced it in choir practice and these lines from that poem echoed what you said here:
Cleanse what is unclean,
water what is parched,
heal what is wounded.
Bend what is inflexible,
warm what is chilled,
correct what has gone astray.