The wait is almost over. The talking, shouting and u-turns will finally be finished. The voting will commence and the results will be counted. Hopefully the country will see a change for the better with the wisdom of the crowd prevailing to give the country exactly what it needs. More than likely the promise of the election campaign will fade as real life commences and everyone will breathe for a while until we get wound up for the next campaign.
Yet what is it that our country really needs? The enthusiasm that has been tapped into in the last few weeks speaks of a yearning for a different way of doing things; a desire to see real change that will last. Change that is built upon goodness, kindness, gentleness, forbearance and self control where everyone contributes for the benefit of the many. It stems from a desire to spread peace and joy at a time when fear and division is being stoked to protect self-interests.
It is a renewal of our country that will hopefully start at the ballot box, but spiritual renewal starts on Sunday with the celebration of Pentecost. After Easter, the Disciples were signed up on promises of a new kingdom, of a world changed, of resurrection from the dead. Yet they were locked in a room out of fear, ill-equipped to follow the dream they had bought into, waiting for the helper Jesus had promised; but what a helper it was!
The Holy Spirit is one of the hardest aspects of Christianity to accept as to take Him at face value is too scary and too extreme. We make it confusing and abstract to try to avoid the truth. Yet to say Jesus is Lord is to have this gift of the Holy Spirit which is given freely to all at baptism and is our helper. To have the Holy Spirit means to produce His fruits in our lives; fruits of love, joy, peace, goodness, gentleness, kindness, forbearance and self-control which are wonderful and necessary gifts, particularly as part of a family, and brings renewal to all our relationships.
He also helps us to bring renewal to our workplaces and communities. When the Apostles received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they were so filled with these fruits that people assumed they were drunk, their joy was considered to be unreal. Peter then spoke to the crowds; Peter an uneducated fisherman, not renowned for his ability to speak wisdom. He spoke and 3,000 were converted on that day on the basis of his testimony. The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of wisdom, knowledge and faith.
The Apostles then went out and openly began preaching, laying the foundations for the church we have today. One of my favourite stories from this time which is found in the Acts of the Apostles is when Peter and John met a man crippled from birth who asks for help. Peter’s response is priceless; “I have neither silver nor gold; but I will give you what I have. In the name of Jesus the Nazarene, walk!” The man is cured and the Apostles understood that the Holy Spirit gives supernatural gifts of healing, miracles and prophecies as well.
This is what Jesus promised. He had told the disciples they would do greater works than He did. It is the Holy Spirit that enabled them to do these things. The question that has to be faced is this then: is it the same Holy Spirit? Has the nature of God changed in the 2000 years since Jesus’ resurrection? Are we baptised with a different Spirit, one that has only a selection of these fruits and gifts? Do we even believe that we possess this helper or is everything we do is in our own strength, having been left to our own devices after the Ascension?
Fortunately there have been many more recent occurrences such as the Azusa Street Revival that led to the Pentecostal movement and the Duquesne Weekend, which consequently led to the Catholic Charismatic renewal which celebrates its 50th anniversary with the Pope in Rome this weekend. Miracles are happening in places as varied as Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe as well as in the UK at events such as the Catholic Miracle Rally. This renewal is continually occurring and the Holy Spirit is constantly at work if we ask Him to be.
As Catholics, we are asked to pray that the Spirit will come and renew the face of the earth. Our renewal starts within each one of us, for the benefit of those around us. I pray Pentecost is like this for you and the election can be this for our country; both of which are definitely worth waiting for, no matter how long they take.