This Sunday the church celebrates Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and Mary the Mother of God, setting them ablaze with the Holy Spirit which stirred in them the inspiration to change the world and begin Christianity. Pope Francis surprisingly addressed this year’s Pentecost by showing the thread of the Holy Spirit in action with hope, a perspective not often reflected upon. He said to a General Audience in Rome filled with Argentinian Pilgrims that hope, through the Holy Spirit, can act as a sail propelling one through the difficult moments of life. Hmm…this peeked my curiosity to learn more. He went on to say,
“The expression ‘God of hope’ does not just mean that God is the object of our hope. He is, the one we hope to reach one day in the eternal life. It also means that God is the One who has already given us hope, and even more makes us “happy in hope.” Having happiness in the moments of hope, and not only, hoping to be happy. Having joy in hoping and not only hoping to be joyful today. Christian hope is possible through the witness that each person is a child of God and has love poured into his or her heart.”
In my pondering of these statements over the past few days, I was waiting for God to show me an example of this hope in action giving it a witness to what our Pope is describing for us this year. True to His nature he provided me with just what I was asking. As I was exiting mass this morning, I noticed a man I often see at daily mass sitting in his car. He called me over to him, said hi, and then started sharing his story with me, a story he needed to share, and I needed to hear. He gave me permission to share it with all of you.
He began by sharing how throughout his life he faithfully practiced his Protestant religion. He was madly in love with his wife and adoring of his children. One day he accompanied his daughter to his Grandson’s baseball game. When the game was over, they sat in the car waiting for her son to join them. While they were sitting there, she told her father that she had been keeping something from him. His heart sank by the tone of her voice and the weight of the air between them. She said she had been undergoing many tests and was told that she has a fatal disease and a short time to live.
He was mortified as you could imagine. The thought of his beautiful daughter dying and leaving behind her young children made him sad to the point of despair. Broken and in desperate, he needed
He was in shock for days and then found himself at the doors of a Catholic Church only to find the doors were locked. He felt compelled to walk over to the rectory and talk to a priest. He knocked on the door, and the priest answered. He was very kind, compassionate, and caring towards him. He confirmed to Ken that he needed hope and said he could find that hope more powerfully if he went to confession. Confession? Ken had never been to confession as a Protestant, so he began to think about his past sins, and he wrote them out on 3 pages of paper. When he was done, he sat in church, in front of the tabernacle and broke down.
Through tears, he begged God to heal his daughter and bargained with God that if he didn’t heal his daughter, he would not blame God, but God would have to take him too. Which he tells me he realizes now that his request was selfish because he had a wife to care for but, at that moment, if his daughter were to die he wanted to die too.
When he was ready to walk out of the church and head home he had felt a sense of calm peace and
This hope had given him the strength to face the battle of this deadly disease and support his daughter. In the days that followed Ken was feeling different, he felt the presence of God in his life in a way he never did before. Then the phone rang, he picked it up, and it was his daughter. She said Dad, I went through another series of tests and they all came up clean with no traces of the disease. My doctors are stumped, they can’t explain how this could possibly be possible. I am completely healed!!!! and it feels so good!!
Ken was so elated with Joy and Love for God and God’s Graces that he converted to Catholicism, goes to daily mass, and now feels the Holy Spirit inspiring him to give inspirational talks to the underprivileged youth.
I believe Ken’s story exemplifies exactly what Pope Francis was speaking of when he said: “hope, through the Holy Spirit, can act as a sail propelling one through the difficult moments of life.” I will end with his final words to the General Audience:
“The Holy Spirit nourishes hope, not only in the hearts of men but also, in the whole of creation. Hope does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given. Pentecost Sunday is the birthday of the Church so join in prayer that all will receive the gift to “abound in hope.””
HAPPY PENTECOST !!!