The high school production of Mary Poppins was glorious and magical! My granddaughter Nancy played Mrs. Banks, the mother of the children who hires Mary Poppins when she unexpectedly shows up to be their nanny. In the musical based on the familiar Disney movie, the singing and dancing made the characters come alive!
It reminded me of a Pentecost homily I heard when Fr. Joe Lehman compared Walt Disney with the Holy Spirit. Walt Disney could create characters by sketching their likeness on a piece of paper and bringing them alive through animation. He animated the characters to sing, dance, talk, love, cry and be loveable.
Walt Disney’s animation seems like a miracle as the characters came alive on the screen, just the characters played by Nancy and the other singers and dancers on the stage that night.
But Disney could not put himself into the characters.
The Holy Spirit not only creates people, a real miracle but also animates them to be fully alive by putting himself within them.
I thought how the Holy Spirit animates us to be fully who we are created to be by giving us all the gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. These produce the fruits of the Spirit, enabling us to live in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Just how do we become animated with all the gifts the Spirit has for us? How do we become all we are created to be? We ask for what Jesus promised in John 14:26:
The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.
The grace we need to actualize our gifts and realize who we are in Christ is available for the asking as revealed in James 4:2 “You do not possess because you do not ask.”
Or as I like to say, “You have not because you ask not.”
Unlike the Disney characters, we are children of God, privileged to ask for every grace we need to come fully alive in Christ. We can ask for what we need to live authentically and joyfully as he created us to live.
During World Youth Day in Brazil, the Holy Father asks us to pray that all young Christians become disciples and missionaries of the Gospel. Perhaps approaching the young people in your life with the Disney analogy will encourage them to ask for the graces Christ promised to send them when they became new creations at their baptism. Everything they need to cooperate with grace and grow up in the fullness of Christ is available for the asking.
Do you have not the graces you need because you ask not?
(© 2013, revised 2016 Nancy H C Ward)