In today’s Gospel, on the first Easter, Jesus greets his apostles and offers them the gift of perfect peace. He then breathes on them and says “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The peace Jesus offers is a passion and zest for life, amidst the chaos of the world. Jesus doesn’t promise to stop the chaos, but to give us calm and peace amidst the chaos. So how do I allow the Spirit to fill me with this peace?”
I believe the first step is to recognize our thirst for the Holy Spirit. In attempting to find meaning and joy in life, we tend to fill the emptiness within us with things of this world, such as: material objects, power, success, relationships, etc. None of these give us lasting peace. How many truly peaceful, joy-filled people do you know? Just as our minds thirst for knowledge, our souls thirst for the Holy Spirit. Our souls thirst for the calm and peace that only the Spirit of Jesus can give us.
Feel the thirst, then join the Christian community in prayer! In both the Acts of the Apostles’ account of the first Pentecost, and today’s Gospel, the apostles are gathered together in prayer. It is primarily through the gathered community that the Holy Spirit is given us, principally as we celebrate Mass. It is particularly at the times of silence during Mass, especially following the readings of sacred scripture, and after receiving Holy Communion, that we allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with peace. We immerse ourselves in silence during these moments. Praising God, especially by singing sacred music, also opens us to receive the Holy Spirit.
What else? Pray daily. The Holy Spirit also comes to us in contemplative or centering prayer. We empty ourselves in order to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us. Properly prayed, the rosary is a good form of contemplative prayer. If you google “contemplative prayer” or “centering prayer,” you will find how to practice these prayer forms.
In today’s scripture readings, the Holy Spirit turns the apostles’ fear, (they had locked the doors of the place where they were staying out of fear), into the joy of experiencing the peace that only Jesus can give. Quenching our soul’s thirst for the Spirit will fill us with that peace.
Fr. Ron Victor
Priest in solidum, St. Isidore Church