On Pentecost Sunday we remember and celebrate the event that marked the fulfillment of the promise that Jesus made to his disciples, the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus personally requested from His heavenly Father, the gift that would always remain with His disciples.
Every baptized follower of Christ possesses this most precious gift. And Paul provides us with a simple test to prove the presence of the Spirit. Paul said, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” We, therefore, can have confidence in knowing that each and every one of us, as faithful followers of Christ, has been blessed with this most precious gift. But our Heavenly Father respects our free will and He will not interfere with our ability to choose. Each one of us, personally, has the ability to either suppress the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, or to allow the Holy Spirit to be made manifest in our life. The following story will, hopefully, help to demonstrate this fact.
I recently contacted a small, local independent business to have some work done on our house. When the man arrived at our home to do the work, I was impressed by his physical appearance. He was very muscular. He appeared to be about thirty years of age. After we had discussed the work that was to be done, I said to him, “Excuse me for saying so, but you look like you should be a police officer or something, the way you’re built.” And to my surprise he said, “I was.”
I then said, “You look like you would make a good cop. What prompted you to get into this line of work?” He said, “One day, when I had just gotten off of work and was on my way home, I stopped by our local grocery store to pick up a few items. While I was in the store, I was standing in one of the aisles looking over some cleaning supplies, trying to find a particular item. There was only one other individual in the aisle besides myself, a man who appeared to be a store employee, wearing a bright yellow vest. He just walked silently by behind me. As this man reached the end of the aisle, he turned around and came back towards me. This man was a total stranger to me. I had never seen him before in my life. But as he approached, he looked at me and said, ‘The Holy Spirit is prompting me to say this to you. You have to let go of the anger and hatred in your heart. God loves you and He wants to lead and guide you, but He cannot do so as long as you are harboring this anger and hatred in your heart.’ With that he turned and walked away. He quickly disappeared from my sight as he rounded the corner at the end of the aisle.”
He went on to say, “This world that we live in has a lot of evil in it. And as a police officer, I was being exposed to that evil continuously. I had to deal with it every day of my life. And I just couldn’t help but feel anger and hatred for some of the things that I had to deal with. That man who spoke to me that day in the grocery store really made me stop and think about my life and the direction that it was heading. Shortly after that incident, a friend of mine invited me to a prayer meeting at his church. To make a long story real short, I turned my life over to Christ. I was baptized and I was born again. I now live for Jesus; and I realize that everything in my life is a gift from Him. I now know that my responsibility, as a born again Christian, is to love and serve Him by loving and serving my fellow man. I knew, beyond any doubt, that even though I was serving my community as a police officer, I did not possess the ability to insulate myself from the evil that I was being exposed to every single day. So I resigned from the force and started my own business. Since then, the Lord has blessed my efforts. I have no idea what the future holds for me and my family, or if this business is what the Lord wants me to do the rest of my life, but I will continue to follow Him wherever He leads me.”
The job for which I had contracted this man should have taken less than one hour, but we talked for almost three hours. Before we parted, I asked him if he had ever entertained the idea of becoming a minister. I told him that he would be good at it. He smiled a smile that went from ear to ear and said, “Yes, I have been thinking about it.” We shook hands and I said, “Peace my brother. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He will lead you to where He wants you to be.”
Paul tells us in his letter to the Ephesians, “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. — Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-31)
And the apostle John tells us in his first letter that, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20)
The Spirit of God abides within each and every one of us. But if we keep our eyes focused on the things of this world, allowing anger and hatred to cloud our vision, we become unable to see the light of Christ in our lives or His presence in the world around us. But through the eyes of faith, embracing an attitude of love and compassion, free of all anger and hatred, we not only see the light of Christ, we also experience His love and His peace. By living in harmony with Christ, embracing His love and His peace, we can have the strength that will enable us to overcome any and all obstacles that the evil one wants to throw at us.
Our God is love. That is His personality. And we see and experience His loving presence through the eyes of love. Hate, anger and hostility form a veil that makes God invisible to us. If we part the veil by letting go of the hate and anger in our life, and we look at those whom we come in contact with through the eyes of love, we will not only see and experience God’s presence; we will also see and recognize Him in the face of our fellow man.
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments, and I will ask the Father and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.” (John 14:15-16) By our baptism, we already possess this Advocate. By simply opening our hearts to the spirit of love, we enable the Spirit of God to lead and guide us and His loving presence is made manifest in our lives.
REVEREND MR. DONALD COX is a permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Detroit. On June 9, 1979, Deacon Don was ordained to the diaconate by His Eminence John Cardinal Dearden, an important American Father of the Second Vatican Council. He is currently assigned to St. Cornelius parish in Dryden, Michigan. Married and the father of three children and grandfather to four children, Deacon Don was born and raised in Detroit, and educated at St. Brigid Elementary School, Mackenzie High School, and Lawrence Technological University. His theological training was taken at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary.