Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More
by Angela M Jendro
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Read the Gospel of John 20:19-23
The health of a culture can be measured to some extent by its general effects in society – positively or negatively. For example, the culture of despair heavy in post-war Europe together with materialist individualism resulted in an astonishing decline in birth rate. George Weigel described it as literally “demographic suicide” and sourced its illness to a spiritual crisis in his book The Cube and the Cathedral.
In American culture today, we see record levels of anxiety and depression rampant through all ages, income levels and geographic regions. In teens and young adults, the suicide rate has jumped dramatically over the last 10-15 years, making it the second leading cause of death for that age group.
How much we need Jesus and His words today: “Peace be with you”!
Pope St. John Paull II’s opening words of his pontificate, and the recurring theme of his many teachings was Jesus’ command: “Be not afraid.”
Certainly mental illness plays a real and significant role in the overall sickness plaguing our society. At the same time, we can’t overlook the toxins present in our culture that either make us more vulnerable to such illnesses, or at least exacerbate them. Remedies should include professional therapy and possibly medication. At the same time, we also have a responsibility to change the culture – to restore youthful optimism in our youth, respect the dignity and meaning of every human life, honor the little way that builds a strong society rather than celebrating only the famous.
If we want full recovery though, not just surviving but thriving, then we need to “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v.22).
Even the apostles were stricken with fear and anxiety in the upper room. They had just seen Jesus crucified and knew they might be next. All they had believed in, all they had sacrificed for, appeared to be for naught. Then, “Jesus came and stood among them,” resurrected! “He showed them has hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (v. 20). This is the source of Christian hope – seeing our risen Lord. Suffering and apparent failure no longer mean death, but rather new life through Christ. When we feel like all is lost, we too need to look at the risen Lord, confident in His ability to redeem.
How much our culture needs this hope, how many people need this! Generational studies expert Dr. Jean Twange, in her book iGen, attributes much of young people’s failure to launch to fear of failure. Their obsession with being safe and with perfection cripples their ability to develop by trying new things and taking reasonable risks. Many don’t even have their drivers license by the age of 18 because they are afraid of failing the test!
In Christ we have our hope and through the gift of His Spirit we receive the necessary peace and courage to live in that hope. Before Pentecost, one of the twelve had committed suicide and the other eleven were hiding in fear. After Pentecost, they left the room on fire for Christ and preached the Gospel with power and zeal – baptizing, healing, and even accepting martyrdom themselves.
To live in this same peace, we too need the Holy Spirit. We receive the indwelling of the Spirit in Baptism, a strengthening of His action in our hearts through Confirmation, and the ongoing animation of His works in our soul through nurturing our relationship with Him in prayer and the Eucharist.
When I feel discouraged, the best antidote is to spend time to friends and family who are encouraging. When I’m anxious and worried, being in the presence of someone filled with confidence and strength eases me. When I’m feeling sad and alone, spending time with a loved one restores my heart. Being in the presence of the Holy Spirit effects all of these. When I feel overwhelmed or defeated, sitting in the stillness of prayer, the Spirit replenish me and even bears a fruit or two (see Galatians 5:22-23).
|“‘If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39|
Jesus has risen, He has been glorified, and He has sent His Spirit among us for the salvation of our souls. Praise be to God! Let us receive Him today in our hearts and in our culture.
- Imagine the risen Lord, standing before you, His pierced hands outstretched, and saying to you personally, “Peace be with you”.
- Consider these words of Christ below regarding the Holy Spirit:
|“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:26-27)|
- How is the peace of Christ different than the peace of the world?
- How can we “not let” our hearts be troubled? What must you do to stay near the Holy Spirit and maintain this source of peace?
- How does the resurrection change everything? Offer to Christ your present failure, struggle, or loss for Him to redeem. Remember that He resurrects us to new life though, not the old.
- Develop your relationship with the Holy Spirit
- Pray to the Holy Spirit throughout the day, ask for His help and guidance.
- Read the Scriptures
- Reflect on the fruits and gifts of the Spirit.
- Listen to Catholic podcasts or read good books about the Holy Spirit.
- Try to live as a person of peace. Ask the Spirit for help!
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