IN FLESH - IN SPIRIT
Rev. John Kha Tran
A man was dressed up ready to go to work. Before leaving the house, he went into the kitchen to take a cup of coffee. As he was walking toward the breakfast table, his 6 years old son, still half asleep, ran in to him. The hot coffee spilled out all over his shirt and pants. He jelled and cursed at his son for being careless. He blamed his wife for not watching the boy. Angrily, he went back to his room, changed his clothes. He slammed the door as he walked out to his car and drove off to work in his madness.
Not wanting to be late for work, so he was driving fast. Suddenly police car came from behind flashing. He was given a ticket for speeding.
He showed up late at work and realized that he had left his suitcase at home.
His boss was not happy with him because he was late and had missed an important meeting at the office. His whole day was ruined.
At home, his wife resented him for his upset and for the way he reacted to his son. She had to deal with the boy’s crying and hurt feelings. He refused to finish his breakfast and did not want to go to school.
What would happen if the father had chosen to react to his son differently?
For example, he could be calmly saying “Son, be careful and watch before you turn and walk around here in the kitchen. I don’t want you and me or anyone in this house to get burned and hurt around here. Now what can I get for you? Do you want milk or orange juice? Please be careful and watch your steps. Then he calmly walked up to his room to change and go to work.
Which response is more in the Spirit? The second one! Right, it is the second one.
The first response was the reaction in the flesh!
The second response was the reaction in the Spirit. It gives us a sense of goodness, peaceful, forgiving and loving. We have many opportunities in daily life to respond in the spirit or in the flesh. We often blame others for our bad attitude or behaviours.
He made me angry.
She hit me first.
He was lying to me.
She cheated on me.
He made me do it.
She told me to take it etc...
Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Pentecost. This is not just a celebration of the old Pentecost recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The feast of the Pentecost is not just a ‘relic’ of the Church in the past. We read the stories of the first Pentecost in order to be aware of the power of God acting in the Church today. God continues to work in the Church. Jesus promised to be with the Church through the Holy Spirit till the end of time. So each time we celebrate this feast, we invoke the coming of the Holy Spirit upon us. We ask God to send his Holy Spirit to renew us and renew the face of the earth. This is reflected in the prayers of the Church on this day:
“God our Father, let the Spirit you sent on your Church to begin the teaching of the gospel continue to work in the world through the hearts of all who believe.”
Or, “Father of light, from whom every good gift comes, send your Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, and by the flame of your wisdom open the horizons of our minds. Loosen our tongues to sing your praise in words beyond the power of speech, for without your spirit man could never raise his voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord.”
The readings today show us a church that is with the Holy Spirit. The disciples were all together in the upper room waiting. And suddenly the room is filled with the sound of a wind. They couldn’t tell where it was coming from; they could only hear it. They were wondering what’s going on, then suddenly the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks and they started speaking in different languages. They couldn’t understand each other but those who were staying in Jerusalem for the feast heard them speaking in their own native tongues. They understood them. Some supposed they were drunk, but Peter quickly put an end to that line of thinking with a powerful speech which he made. He clearly explains the Gospel to these people and boldly declares the good news about Jesus Christ. These apostles, who previously had not had the courage to even stand up with Jesus when he was being persecuted, were suddenly changing the world. Peter who had denied that he had even known Jesus was now preaching to the multitudes.
What happened? What caused such a significant change?
A person who is in the Spirit is making himself available to serve. The disciples were making themselves available for God to use them. They experienced life-changing attitudes and behaviours. If we are in the Spirit of God, we also make ourselves ready and available to God. If we are in the Spirit, our hearts, our minds, and our actions will also be guided by the Spirit in our services.
Last Thursday, I was invited out to lunch with two parishioners, Dr. Dan Stuckey and Tom Allum, the two leaders in our parish’s ministry for life. We also met with a young lady Dorothy Richardson, a 21 years old assistant of the Go Mobile for Life project. She introduced us into their mission to start a Mobile Crisis Pregnancy Center, providing free pregnancy tests . . . free ultrasounds for abortion-minded women entering the new $26 million Planned Parenthood abortion Center on the Gulf Freeway. This new abortion clinic is located right across the Catholic Charismatic Center near downtown Houston. Last Friday, I felt sad when I read the Houston Chronicle and saw the picture of the new Mayor of Houston, joined the officials of the Planned Parenthood to cut the ribbon for the opening of this abortion clinic. I felt more committed to have St. Bartholomew joining the Houston Coalition for Life as one of the first 40 Churches in Houston, to gather to pray and show our support for life at this new Abortion Center. I believe that we are inspired by the Spirit of the Lord to do this. We want to bring the Spirit of God there to awaken those who will enter into that clinic. We want to invite them to change from living according to the flesh into living according to the Spirit of the Lord.
A person who lives in the Spirit of the Lord will be able to communicate to people from different cultures and speaks in different languages. Living in the Spirit of God, the English speaking should be able to communicate, understand, relate and accept the Spanish speaking people. And the Spanish speaking people should be able to understand, relate and accept the English speaking people. People of different ministries would be able to work together, respect, love and support and appreciate one another.
The Perpetual Adoration people should be able to understand and relate to the Bingo Players on Friday nights. The Happy Hearts should be able to understand and relate to the CCE Students. The young should be able to relate to the elderly. The Prayer Group should be able to communicate and relate to the poor who come to St. Vincent de Paul’s Social Services for assistance, and not be afraid of their presence. Having peace, love, unity are indications that we are living in the Spirit of the Lord.
Taking the Time to Care
Douglas Maurer, 15, of Creve Coeur, Missouri, had been feeling bad for several days. Mrs. Maurer took Douglas to the hospital in St. Louis where he was diagnosed as having leukaemia.
The doctors told him in frank terms about his disease. They said that for the next three years, he would have to undergo chemotherapy. They didn’t sugar-coat the side effects. They told Douglas he would go bald and that his body would most likely bloat. Upon learning this, he went into a deep depression.
His aunt called a floral shop to send Douglas an arrangement of flowers. She told the clerk that it was for her teenage nephew who had leukaemia. When the flowers arrived at the hospital, they were beautiful. Douglas read the card from his aunt without emotion. Then he noticed a second card. It said: "Douglas - I took your order. I work at Brix Florist. I had leukaemia when I was seven years old. I’m 22 years old now. Good Luck. My heart goes out to you. Sincerely, Laura Bradley."
His face lit up. "Oh wow!" he said.