Pentecost: Receiving Power

One of the things I’ve learned in my years of teaching is to take I am not always the best and most original thinker. I am blessed to be surrounded by those with wisdom and spiritual insight. Recently, my spiritual director came up with a wonderful analogy about Pentecost that I think would be helpful to everyone. So I will share it here.

Do you have a cell phone?

I imagine that you do. In fact, I would guess to say that if it isn’t with you right now, you know exactly where it is. In recent years, we have become completely connected to these devices. With them, we can tap into the collected human knowledge available online, we can contact friends and family through the phone and social media, and we have access to apps that should bring us enjoyment.

But through it all, we are keenly aware of how much power our cell phones have at any given time. We look to see how much battery charge is left before we have to plug it in. Most of us are very diligent about charging the phone every day, sometimes multiple times a day just to make sure we keep the energy.

Could you imagine only charging your cell phone once a week? For many of us that is unthinkable. If we did that, our phones wouldn’t function properly.

Why do we think of spiritual life as being any different?

Allow this over-simplified analogy: Think about your phone. Someone had to engineer the physical parts and circuitry and then put the materials together to form it. Then someone had to develop the software to run all of your apps and programs. But none of that matters if you do not have the power to make it perform its function. Without the power, it is just an incredibly expensive brick.

God the Father created us. He made us after His image and likeness. We are created with His plan and purpose. Jesus came and gave us the Way to live an authentic human life with the Gospel. The world is filled with lots of different philosophies and foolishness that leads us to empty, broken lives. Only by living according to the “program” of Christ can our lives run properly. But none of that matters if we do not live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Again, that is a radical oversimplification. But Jesus promised to send us the Paraclete, the Advocate of the Holy Spirit to give us power. The Apostles gathered in Jerusalem right after the Ascension. They were made and prepared by the Father and the Son, but they hid in the upper room. They were waiting for the power of the Holy Spirit. Once they received that power, they could unleash all of His gifts to them.

We are required as Catholics to encounter the Blessed Trinity at Mass every Sunday. But why would we limit this to only once a week? I suppose there are those who would only charge their phones once a week, but they would not be able to fully enjoy and utilize all of the “gifts” on that phone.

The coming of the Holy Spirit was not a one time event at Pentecost. It is a constant call of the Christian.

When I was in college, I was at mass and the priest told the story of one of the Desert Fathers and one of his disciples. The disciple asked what he must do to become a saint. The Desert Father told him to love God above all and love his neighbor as himself, to dedicate himself to prayer, and follow the commandments. When the disciple said that he did all this, but was still not a saint, the Desert Father burst into flames and said, “Why not be on fire?”

Whether real or a fanciful legend, the point is the same: we must be set on fire with the Holy Spirit. As a teacher, I spend every day teaching about Jesus. But there are times when the grind of everyday life tempts me to look at my vocation as a job rather than a joy. The only that prevents me from doing that is when I “recharge” and receive the power of the Holy Spirit. Christianity is not about following a program. It is about being totally consumed by the reckless, raging fire of God’s love. The Holy Spirit is represented by fire because love is a fire. It burns, it ignites, it warms, it fuels.

The Holy Spirits gives us the power of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. He melts our hearts of stone and gives us hearts of flesh. Jesus told us not to worry about what we are to say, but that the Holy Spirit would give us the words (Luke 12:11-12). Without the Holy Spirit, we are just a human brick, incapable of living to our potential. But with the Holy Spirit, there is no limit to the miracles that can occur in our lives.

If only we were as vigilant about powering our souls as we were about powering our phones!

Tonight, as you charge your phone, perhaps take a moment to enter into the presence of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to enter into your life in a new and powerful way.

“Come Holy Spirit, enkindle in our hearts, the Fire of Your Love. Send forth Thy Spirit and we shall be created, and Thou shall renew the face of the earth.”

Copyright 2022, WL Grayson

W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

I am a devoutly Catholic theology teacher who loves a popular culture that often, quite frankly, hates me. I grew up absorbing every movie, TV show, comic book, science fiction novel, etc. I could find. As of today I’ve watched over 2100 movies and tv shows. They take up a huge part of my life. I don’t know that this is a good thing, but it has given me a common vocabulary to draw from in order to illustrate whatever theological point I make in class. I’ve used American Pie the song to explain the Book of Revelation (I’ll post on this some time later) and American Pie the movie to help explain Eucharist (don’t ask). The point is that the popular culture is popular for a reason. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and imaginations, for good or ill. In this blog I will attempt to bring together the things of heaven with the things of earth. Of course this goal may be too lofty for someone like me.

Leave a Reply

next post: All You Can Do : The Spiritual Lesson of Frodo

previous post: God in the Heart: Faith, Hope and Love