Recent events—natural disasters, pandemic illness, racism, violence, political divisiveness, abuse, scandal, and social media threads—all scream the effects of original sin. But so too (and very acutely to me lately) do the screaming voices of my children and the tensions and struggles within our family and, indeed, within my own heart. It is alarming to see the same tendencies toward sin that are apparent in our world on a large scale present within my home and within myself. Sin is so deeply integrated into our humanity that it can only be overcome by divine power—through the saving grace of Jesus and the love of the Holy Spirit, who can penetrate every fiber of our being and the deepest recesses of our hearts. What these past few months have driven home for me is the fact that our hurting, broken world needs healing as much as ever, as does my family, as do I.
At times I have felt desperate to get out and help (emphasis on “get out” . . . of my house), proclaim the truths of the Gospel from the rooftop (oh, the roof—I could be alone up there), and serve others with my skills and the gifts I have received to bring about social change. As Christians, this is exactly what we are all commissioned to do through our baptism. Each of us is a priest (servant of others), a prophet (proclaimer of the truth), and a king (leading the way and inheriting the kingdom). But at other times, I have had the desire to cast blame, judge others for their lack of charity, respond harshly to frustrations and hurts, numb myself to the chaos outside and inside my home, give in to feelings of helplessness, and harbor resentment for my own challenging circumstances.
When I take all of this to the Lord, however, what I am hearing is a simple call to repentance. Before discerning how and when I should take action and fulfill my Christian call, I need to look inward and be open to him changing those places in my heart that are not manifesting the fruits of the Holy Spirit which the world so desperately needs. In what areas do I lack self-control, wisdom, peace, understanding, kindness, patience . . . ? If I am to be a light to the world, I must allow the light to grow within me. I must set to work allowing God to change my inner world so as to effect that same change in the world—by God’s grace flowing through me.
Similarly, I can help shine his light on the lives of my children. Is our family a place of peace, forgiveness, respect, and understanding? Are we patient and gentle with one another? A mother who is earnestly seeking to let the Holy Spirit revolutionize her own life can then authentically teach and guide her children to receive the graces God is offering each of them.
In this intense time of challenge for our world, may we open ourselves more fully to the healing and renewing presence of the Holy Spirit, and may we become instruments of his love—serving others, proclaiming the Good News, and leading others to know him.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit, and our hearts shall be created—and you shall renew the face of the earth.