Last week Rachael and Joey Tissot – Durgin’s son was baptized. Seeing their beautiful baby boy, I was struck by the opened-eyed expression on his face! It was as if he was filled with wonder and awe as to what was happening! Such an inquisitive look! As if he was wondering why is water being poured over me? Why is this perfumed oil being rubbed on my head! Little did he comprehend that he was receiving through the faith of his parents the gift of the Holy Spirit! The gift of God’s love, that Jesus had promised to send to his disciples.
These two events reminded me of a story I have shared with you before, but one that I think is worth repeating as our young people head towards their Confirmation on May3th and as we continue our journey through the Easter season to Pentecost.
During a Sunday Mass as we were singing the Alleluia I noticed a baby in the church smiling brightly and clapping his hands as we sang. Even when we stopped singing the baby continued to smile and clap! He wasn’t much more than a year old if he was that. It reminded me of a little girl I knew when I served at St. Joseph Church in Weedsport, one of my early assignments. I called her my Alleluia girl! Whenever she saw the priest or deacon headed to the pulpit to proclaim the gospel, her face lit up and she would start to sing her own version of the Alleluia! The baby boy and the little girl both reminded me of the words of Jesus, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter into it. “(Lk 18:17) and, “Amen, Amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.” (Jn 3:5) These two little children were so open to the promptings of the Spirit that the joy of the Lord radiated in their faces. I believe that it is this childlike openness to the Holy Spirit that enables us to experience the kingdom of God in our daily lives.
As we grow older, our inhibitions tend to block the way to the joy and peace that God offers us through the Holy Spirit. The experiences in life that put us in touch with sin and evil in our world and in ourselves can rob us of the openness we are called to have as children of God. The Easter Season reminds us that Jesus has broken the gates of sin and death and is calling us from the tomb of all that binds us, that we may be new creations, new persons, in His love. But, we have to claim the victory He has won for us and be open to His gift of the Holy Spirit! That openness comes when we surrender to God and ask God to remove our inhibitions, our fears and our feelings of unworthiness caused by our own sinfulness.
As we journey over these next weeks to the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost, I offer you this daily prayer to help you to be open to all that God wants you to receive as a child of God.
God’s blessings and peace, Father Bill
Loving God, through the grace of your Son, Jesus, remove from my life all that binds me from receiving the fullness of your love. Open my heart and mind to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Fill me with the gifts of your Spirit that I may be filled with your joy and your peace, and may experience the kingdom of God in my daily life. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.