Reflection for Pentecost Sunday
In Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis observes, “The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people …” (GE, 6) He adds, “I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance, I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”. (GE, 7)
This is the Spirit of everyday holiness, the Spirit that animates people who may otherwise opt to live life for themselves, to choose to persevere in living their lives for others. This is the Spirit behind the ordinariness of people, performing extraordinary actions, the Spirit behind the continuous and subtle transformation of the mundaneness of our present existence, into its kingdom of justice and peace.
This is the Spirit hovering over the father who marches every day to his daily toil, so we can afford what we aspire for. This is the Spirit comforting the mother who wakes up before dawn, long before the whole family, so she can prepare what we need. This is the Spirit protecting your older sister or older brother who chose instead to work and earn for my education. This is the Spirit directing “my special” sibling to listen and to support me in times of trouble. This is the Spirit embracing my child or grandchild, whom I could not hug long enough because of the pressures of my career, but now are standing by and taking care of me.
See how the Spirit bears fruits of holiness in our families!
We must become the saints for our modern times. We must allow the Spirit to prompt us to choose to carry another’s burden, even if we have the chance to carry only our own. The Spirit is always reminding us that another person, especially a loved one, is also another life with its own dignity and worthy of mutual support. The Spirit is always admonishing us that another person is not and will never be a means to our own ends, is not a “resource” we can use or discard according to our own purposes. The Spirit is always calling us to a life of oblation, a life of responsible and heroic selflessness; and for some, the Spirit will be one in the fading into silence and obscurity, to be remembered only by him who knows all and sees all. For the Spirit teaches, ‘Holiness will never strive to be remembered, but inevitably it will never be forgotten.’
May we pray: O Holy Spirit, unite me to the prayer of Ruth, a selfless commitment to lifelong accompaniment and solidarity. May I make the same commitment to my family and to those neglected and forsaken in our community. Bestow upon me the strength to utter to them:
Lord help me to never leave you, guide me to go where you go and to stay where you stay.
Your brethren will be my brethren, your joys are my joys, your sorrows are my sorrows.
Let us live our lives in the Spirit together, only death shall separate us.
This is my promise to you, my pledge to my Lord.
May he protect us for the rest of our days. Amen.
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.