Empowered by the Spirit

The Feast of Pentecost

When we think of the feast of Pentecost which is celebrated this weekend, we think of images which represent the Holy Spirit, like the dove or the flame. For me however, this week’s Pentecost Gospel taken from John speaks of another image – that of empowerment and being empowered by the Spirit.

Prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the apostles were virtually living in isolation, locked away from the outside world, living in fear of what may happen to them and not having the strength or will to venture out of the room. Does this situation sound familiar to you? The apostles felt completely powerless, crippled with fear and uncertainty. They had a task to do but felt totally incapable of doing it. They needed someone to empower them.

A sense of empowerment

Empowerment is a catchy word – an “in” word at present. Just this week I sat in a meeting where the facilitator was saying that the purpose of the meeting was to “empower” all who attended. We have seen or heard of people who transform their lives because they were “empowered” by a person or experience. Dare I say Queensland’s State of Origin team play passionately and “above their weight” because they are “empowered” by the maroon jersey.

Being empowered by the Spirit

The thing that empowered the apostles and enabled them to overcome their fears and go out and preach the Good News was the Holy Spirit. Despite what we may perceive from the readings, the change in them, though powerful and positive, did not occur in a flash. It took time for them to grow and change and realise the potential of the gifts they had received.

People are rising to new levels of care and concern for others, they are more appreciative of others, more supportive of those who make sacrifices for others.

The same applies to us today. In our current situation, we feel isolated and afraid; we wonder what will happen to us and we are often unable to do what is required of us. But we too have been gifted with the Holy Spirit and this creates in us, a sense of hope that empowers us and enables us to grow and change. This new “power” enables us to take charge of our situation and live our lives as we have been called to live them. The Holy Spirit will energise us and give us the courage we need to face new situations, firm in the knowledge that we are loved and supported. We witness this every day in the changes we can see that have arisen out of this pandemic. People are rising to new levels of care and concern for others, they are more appreciative of others, more supportive of those who make sacrifices for others. Even in the worst of situations, the Holy Spirit empowers us to stand up and be more, just like the apostles at Pentecost.

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