Pastoral Reflections

Pentecost Sunday – 2017

Imagine how the apostles and disciples felt after Jesus ascended into heaven. We can assume they felt a level of emptiness, loss, uncertainty, doubt and fear. That having been said, they nonetheless gathered in prayer, praying for the coming of the Comforter or the Advocate, as Jesus called the Holy Spirit (John 14:16.26).

The Holy Spirit came in a whirlwind, transforming and enlightening them. After receiving the Holy Spirit, they had the power of Jesus and had the courage to openly continue the ministry of Jesus. Is the Holy Spirit as present and as actively engaged today as he was on that first Pentecost?

In response to this question, I’d like to share with you the story of a young woman who experienced the Holy Spirit coming to her in a profound way and totally changing her life. This young woman grew up in a good Catholic family but as a teenager, while attending a boarding school, she began hanging around girls who were into the occult and Ouija boards. They did this for hours every week. It was a fascination and preoccupation for them. As this was going on, this young woman began to experience sleep disturbances and was unable to sleep properly at night any more. She used the boards with her companions for two years until she eventually left boarding school.

Sometime afterwards she was involved in helping to set up a business. She was asked by her colleagues to go to an astrologer and see if the business plans were sound. The astrologer interpreted everything in her life as if it were controlled by the movement of the stars and planets. She reported that the astrologer sowed seeds of despair in her heart because he implied everything in her life was written in the sky instead of being a gift from God. She remarked to others that such an interpretation of her life left her feeling cut off from the love, care and tenderness of God. She began to feel like an orphan.

In the months that followed, she experienced things that she had never experienced before; nightmares, thoughts and words of hatred against her family and friends, she wasn’t attracted by food any more, she was tortured more and more by anxiety. Ultimately, she was beginning to lose the desire to continue living.

One day, her sister came to visit her and said that she had been to a Catholic prayer group in town and that everything described in the Acts of the Apostles is real. She expressed that the miracles and the coming of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit not only happened in the past but that these things happen now as well.

The next day was Pentecost Sunday. Our young woman went to the prayer group mentioned by her sister and noticed that the young people there were so visibly full of joy and the Holy Spirit. She said there was something heavenly about them but, as she sat beside them she felt like hell sitting beside heaven. She felt imprisoned and her spirit was deadened. She remembered a prayer she had said a long time ago when she was young. She had prayed for the possibility of meeting people here on earth like those described in the Acts of the Apostles. She said that if she met people like them she would join them and give herself to God 100%. But now that she met them she felt it was too late.

During the prayer meeting a woman spoke under the influence of the Holy Spirit saying to all there that there was a woman present amongst them contemplating death because a long time ago the devil took hold of her when she began to use Ouija boards and divination. The speaker asked her to go to the leaders of this prayer group and ask for prayer, since God has the power to free her from Satan. The young woman went to them for prayer and the prayer leader said that Jesus through his cross and resurrection has the power to heal her and make her joyful, happy and peaceful. It was the first time she had heard someone say that Jesus could touch her heart now, today.

They prayed powerful prayers of liberation over her, invoking the name of Jesus and she felt her anxiety, torture and despair dissipating. She felt rivers of cleansing water going through her. In this she experienced her first deep encounter with the living Jesus. She said she had been doing her will instead of God’s will, which was why Satan acted with such power in her life. Then she gave her life to God 100% and that was her first authentic commitment to Jesus.

Our celebration of Pentecost today, reminds me of this young woman and what happened to her on a Pentecost Sunday years ago. We heard in our first lesson how the apostles and disciples gathered in prayer also received new life on the first Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11). The young woman in our story also received new life through the Holy Spirit. She had previously wanted to meet people like those in the Acts of the Apostles, and on that Sunday afternoon she met them during the prayer meeting. Her life was changed from hell to heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Without the Holy Spirit we have no life in us, with the Holy Spirit we have the life of Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit we become closed in, but with the Holy Spirit we reach out in mission to others. Without the Holy Spirit we return to the Upper Room in fear and anxiety but with the Holy Spirit we leave the Upper Room and witness to Jesus to the ends of the earth.

Let us pray today for ourselves and for the entire Church, that we may all be truly renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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