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How can the Inspiration of the Holy Spirit Change Your Life?

Homily for Pentecost, Cycle B

Given at St. Jude, May 19, 2024

By Deacon Ken Steponaitis


There is a Latin phrase, "Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi." Roughly translated it means, “how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live.”


Bishop Robert Barron, and he said something that is closely related. "We become what we worship." Maybe another way to put this, is, we become what we are inspired to become. And what inspires us are those things we worship.


An example of this is a child who learns to love football. He latches on to his favorite player. He studies how that player plays and watches how he throws, catches, and tackles. He grows up not only learning the game of football but is inspired to be a football player himself. The child is inspired to become who or what he worships.


And ... we all worship something. We are motivated by that which inspires us the most.

The very word “inspire” comes from the Latin inspirare, meaning to take in the spirit And throughout the bible we read about the spirit being breathed. For example, In Genesis chapter 1, verses 1 and 2 it reads, "In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form or shape, [and] with darkness over the abyss [there was] a mighty wind [which swept] over the waters.

In Greek, the word for mighty wind, is ruah, literally translated it means the spirit or breath of God. When God spoke, God breathed into existence the heavens and earth.

           

Later in Genesis, chapter 2, God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,” rûaḥ, the Spirit of God.

           

The risen Lord walks through the doors of the upper room, and rather than chastising the apostles for not having the courage to stay with Him in his hour of need; rather than condemning them for a lack of faith, Jesus enters the upper room and in love and mercy says to his scared and confused and spiritually dead followers, “Peace be with you.” “’As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” He inspired them and brought them back to spiritual life.

           

If you’ve ever been to the Chrism Mass during Holy Week, the oils used for the sacraments are blessed. One of those oils, the Chrism oil, is used to anoint those who are confirmed. When the Chrism Oil is blessed by the bishop, the bishop breaths, or blows into the Chrism the sign of the cross three times, representing the breath of God. And the words that are used during the confirmation are, “be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.” The person confirmed is inspired.

           

On Pentecost, or 50th day, after the resurrection, we read in our first reading, “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, [rûaḥ] and it filled the entire house in which they were. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." They were “inspired.”


            It is in and through the Holy Spirit, a miracle of new life, a kind of resurrection occurs among the disciples that brought a kind of fire, a zeal, a power that allowed the once scared and confused disciples to go out, with absolute conviction and do something they would have never ordinarily done. They went out and began to preach the Gospel, the good news of Jesus, knowing full well that they too could and ultimately would face the same fate as Jesus.


We all worship something. But the question is, what? Because whatever it is we worship, we become. Whatever it is that we are inspired by, we become. And if what we worship is not our God, if we don’t allow the power of the Holy Spirit to inspire us, then there is a kind of death that occurs in our lives. There is this sense that whatever it is we are or are doing is not enough. You’ll have the feeling of wanting and needing something more.


There is not a single person in the world who was not breathed into existence. Each and every one of us has a been put here for a purpose. Each and every one of us has been given a gift, a special charism, as the church puts it. We all, each one of us, has a special or unique ability that is intended to be used to glorify God.


         We are said to be part of a body of Christ. (1 Cor 12:12) Each one of us plays a part in that body. Each one of us is called by the Holy Spirit to use that gift, that talent, that desire we hold within ourselves for some benefit. But what is it? What is it that we are being called to do? And how do we know what we are called to do?


Without the Holy Spirit we cannot know for sure. And that may be why Jesus, in the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, vs. 16 and 17, during the last supper says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth.”


God is not one truth among many. God is the only truth. A statement that seems controversial in our society today. But until we come to the conclusion that God is the only truth, we are never satisfied. We never know who or what to turn to, to be inspired by.


It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can come to know the truth of who Jesus is and who we are intended to be. That is why Pentecost is so important. Jesus had to leave us, but He didn’t leave us alone. It was not like Jesus went away and we got a replacement. It was more that Jesus went to a higher realm; some 4th dimension, outside of time and space. And then we were inspired by his Holy Spirit. That same spirit that brings us to life, that same spirit that brings about our very existence who dwells within us, that protects us and guides us. The spirit that brings us the truth of who God is and who we are!


We need the Holy Spirit to inspire us. To teach us. To show us what it is that God intends for our lives. For some of us it is clear and evident to us early in our lives what we were meant for. For others, it takes years of discernment, maybe even of failure and despair, a kind of decent into the abyss of our lives, a kind of death to what we thought we should worship, to show us that nothing can satisfy us or inspire us the way that God can through the Holy Spirit.


Something deep within us has to let go of what we think is important in our lives and then we need to be resurrected into a new life, inspired by the Holy Spirit in a way that resurrects us and helps us see the truth of life.


This all may seem difficult to grasp. Understanding what it is that we are specifically called to do in our lives can seem so nebulous; so unreal. But there are plenty of examples like these two:


There is a ministry at St. Jude Catholic Church in Allen, TX called the St. Jude Toolbox ministry. A member of that ministry, Bob, loves to do carpentry work as all the people involved in this ministry likely do. One of their projects was to create a wooden ramp for a young man named Josh. Josh is bound to a wheelchair. After the Toolbox ministry built the ramp, they wanted Josh to try it out. When Josh came out to use it for the first time, he was dressed in a suit. What The Toolbox ministry didn’t realize was, the first time Josh would use the ramp, was to roll down the ramp to get to his first communion mass.


A pregnant woman was highly encouraged by her doctors to abort her child due to so many medical complications. But she refused to abort her child and was inspired by the Holy Spirit to bring her child to term. Fully expecting a still born birth, instead she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. The boy grew up feeling inspired by the Holy Spirit to love football and play in college and earn the Heisman Trophy. He was drafted into the NFL and became a quarterback for the Denver Broncos. This man, now financially well off, and influential, was inspired by the Holy Spirit to preach in prisons, build a hospital, work with his father’s ministry in the Philippines, and speak against abortion. And the mother’s name? Pam Tebo. Her son is Tim Tebo.


To be inspired by the Holy Spirit means to listen to God dwelling within us. So, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth of who you are and what you are intended to be and do. The apostles were scared and unsure. When Jesus breathed into them the spirit, a miracle happened. And at Pentecost, suddenly these scared and confused men were brought back to life. They were given gifts that allowed them to overcome their fears, to go out and do what it was that God had created them for. The result is that we can celebrate the birth of a Church, the Catholic Church, whose purpose is to brings the Truth of God and the Truth of who we are, to all who are open to that truth.

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