OUR OPINION: Life in the Spirit leads to acts of compassion

Roman Catholic writer Henri Nouwen, known worldwide for his insightful books of reflection and meditation, said in “Bread for the Journey,”

“Being the living Christ today means being filled with the same Spirit that filled Jesus. Jesus and his Father are breathing the same breath, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the intimate communion that makes Jesus and his Father one. Jesus says: ‘I am in the Father and the Father is in me’ (John 14:10) and ‘The Father and I are one’ (John 10:30). It is this unity that Jesus wants to give us. That is the gift of his Holy Spirit.

“Living a spiritual life, therefore, means living in the same communion with the Father as Jesus did, and thus making God present in the world.”

This Pentecost weekend in the church’s always repeating story in what’s called the liturgical calendar remains as it was originally construed, as a disturber of the status quo within the community of faith.

The narrative in the New Testament does not describe anything regular or unremarkable.

Frederick Buechner, on the other hand, suggests that our era has made the “word spirit … come to mean something pale and shapeless, like an unmade bed. School spirit, the American spirit, the Christmas spirit, the spirit of ‘76, the Holy Spirit – each of these points to something that you know is supposed to get you to your feet cheering, but that you somehow can’t rise to. The adjective spiritual has become downright offensive. If somebody recommends a person as spiritual you tend to avoid that person, and usually with good reason. Inspiring is even worse. Inspirational is worse still. Inspirational books are almost invariably for the birds.”

Buechner, a Christian voice in serious fiction and commentary for a half-century, offers the reminder that “the Latin word spiritus originally meant ‘breath’ (as in expire, respiratory, and so on), and breath is what you have when you’re alive and don’t have when you’re dead.”

God is Spirit, as Buechner describes from the apostle John (4:24), “Thus God is the power of the power of life itself, has breathed and continues to breathe life into his creation. Inspires it. The spirit of God, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, is highly contagious.”

When Peter and his friends were caught up in it at Jerusalem on Pentecost, everybody thought they were drunk in early morning.

They were not drunk as usually understood, but changed, as intended for all who followed The Way that Jesus of Nazareth laid out.

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