In the beginning, the Spirit hovered over the waters waiting for the creative Word of God to vivify the earth. The same Spirit waited for Mary’s Fiat before covering her with the shadow of the Most High to bring to the world its Savior.
Today, through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Spirit dwells in us.
St. Paul’s words echo through the centuries: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16) The Spirit dwells in us, and it’s also in us that he awaits our openness to the will of God to come into our life and vivify us.
The Spirit generates in you new life
When we open ourselves to the action of the Spirit we open ourselves to a movement that generates life. It is like a soil prepared to be cultivated: in the movement of the land that has to be stirred, in the movement of planting the seed, and even in the movement of the very plant that grows. And it’s always the Spirit that initiates this movement in us as an invitation to let ourselves to be guided by him, to let ourselves to be guided to participate and to live in the love of the Trinity. But all invitations wait for a response. The Spirit is powerful, but he cannot make us bear fruit if we don’t allow him to plant and work in us.
But when we open ourselves to the action of the Spirit, the life he vivifies in us bears the mark of the divine, because its fruits are divine. But they are also human. And it is in this balance—so difficult for us to understand and live—that the fruit can sometimes lose its flavor or even languish.
Scripture tells us that one of these fruits is joy: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal 5, 22-23).
In some moments of our life, for many different reasons for each one of us, the sources of joy dry up, and we’re faced with the fact that what makes us happy isn’t eternal. Then we cannot avoid feeling a void, one that ultimately makes us live in thirst.
How to find true joy
Being thirsty reminds me of Saint-Exupéry’s story The Little Prince, at the moment where the boy finds a seller of pills that he says will quench your thirst. This seller explains to the Little Prince that by taking just one of those pills a week, he would no longer need to drink water—thus saving a lot of time (to be more precise, fifty-three minutes) that could be spent doing whatever he wanted. But the Little Prince saw things in a different way: “If I had fifty-three minutes to spend, I would use it to go very quietly looking for a fountain…”
This story makes me wonder: how am I quenching my thirst? The Little Prince very wisely realized that his thirst would remain if he didn’t undertake a journey to find what could truly quench his thirst, rather than just postponing it. Do I want something that will stop my thirst, or will I start walking and look for a fountain?
Do I want something that temporarily takes away my thirst for joy, or do I set out to find the fountain of eternal joy?
In the Bible, the word joy is not a goal in itself; it’s a consequence of God’s presence among his people, a consequence of his fidelity to his promises, a consequence of his eternal love. And for us to feel this love, Jesus asks the Father to send us his Spirit to guide us in the truth and always be with us: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). We can rejoice because even before our hearts feel abandoned, God is already there with us!
Tomáš Halík, a priest from the Czech Republic, wrote a book whose title touches me deeply: My God is a Wounded God. In our fragilities and suffering, in our attempts to start living again, we have a God who can truly say: I understand. A God who, at those times when we want to rip our hearts out because suffering is so unbearable, can truly say to us: I understand, and I am here.
And it is in his word and in his presence that the source of life is contained which has the power to germinate in us the fruits of his Spirit—and thus also joy. And because the Spirit dwells in us, we should not let fear, doubts, limitation, fragilities, or suffering occupy the place in our hearts that belongs to God, the place that belongs to love. In his love we can rejoice always.
May this Pentecost be our time to begin a journey guided by the Spirit toward the fountain of Eternal Life!
The first step is to find the joy that comes from the presence of the Lord with us in every step of the way. We don’t need to run, we can go quietly like the Little Prince, we can go at the pace our heart can manage in this moment, at this time.
God walks with us, and when we arrive, he will be there waiting for us.
by Sr Marta Gaspar