The Holy Spirit Speaks... When We're Listening
"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." Matt 25:40
Last week my wife told me how she was inspired by God to help a person in need.
The day began like any another day: errands, plans, bills to pay, deadlines to meet, but she was troubled by something. Two weeks prior she had been to confession and her penance was to do something good for someone else. Despite it being two weeks later my wife still felt that she had yet to fulfill her penance. So she prayed that morning for the Lord to grant her an opportunity to fulfill her penance. Her prayer actually was for the Lord to make it "strikingly clear." .
Later that day she walked into a deli to get something for her and her mother to eat. As she was leaving, she saw a man that by all appearances was down on his luck: he wore dirty clothing, looked totally disheveled, and was miserably drunk, so drunk that he couldn't stand up. My wife walked past him when all of sudden she remembered her prayer request. The Lord told her "this is it." She went to her car, got out a chaplet and gave it to the man. (A chaplet is sort of like a rosary except that it contains only 11 beads instead of the 55 on a standard rosary. For years my wife and my father in law have made these chaplets by hand giving them out to whomever the Holy Spirit would put in their path.) The man accepted the chaplet and was stunned by this act of random kindness. He went on to describe to her how he had lost everything in life; his parents and his home and that the only thing that mattered to him was getting drunk. He also confessed that he was a baptized Irish Catholic and how he was a good person despite his misfortune. He kept repeating that he would never forget this day. My wife and the man whose name was James spoke for a few minutes. As she was leaving she promised James that she would pray for him and asked him to do the same for her. She told him that there are no chance meetings in this life and that God wants to see him well and happy. She assured him that the Lord loves him, and knows his plight and is going to help him if he asks for help.
She left the scene both heavy hearted by his utter desolation, and uplifted by the role God allowed her to play in making His presence known to this poor man. She couldn't believe how intimately God answered her morning prayer to illumine the exact opportunity.. and HE did! She called it a "God kiss."
The thing that I admire most about my wife is how she is in tune to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Usually when she gets an inspiration from the Holy Spirit, she acts on it. There have been countless times in our marriage where I have been the grateful beneficiary of my wife's obedience to the Holy Spirit.
In today's gospel a similar thing happens to Phillip. Phillip receives an inspiration from the Holy Spirit to go to a government official on the road. It turns out that the official is also an eunuch reading the scriptures, pondering a certain question. Phillip explains the bible passage to him, and how it was fulfilled through Jesus Christ. The eunuch immediately gets baptized and becomes a Christian that day.
It is often said by Christian critics, that God really doesn't care about one's day to day affairs; that the great miracles wrought by Jesus are not being done today. They say the faith is a bunch of made up tall tales by a desperate poor class, who needed something greater to believe in. On the surface these arguments seem true, but the one thing that is being overlooked by these critics is the work of the Holy Spirit.
It was the Holy Spirit who created the entire church from a fledgling band of cowards. It was the Holy Spirit that inspired these early Christians to become bold witnesses to the faith. The truth is that this same Holy Spirit is present today inspiring Christians everywhere to do great things. The question is; who is listening to voice of the Holy Spirit today? If all of us would take the time to pray and to listen to inspirations of the Holy Spirit we would see even greater miracles today then in the time of the earliest disciples.
Fortunately for James, my wife listened to the Holy Spirit and was able to convey Jesus' message of hope to him through a simple conversation, some restored dignity, and a little chaplet.