Dear sisters and brothers,
The Miracle of Change: Before the coming of the Spirit, the apostles were virtually living in hiding in the upper room. A great task had been entrusted to them, yet they had neither the strength nor the will to begin it. But after Pentecost they were changed people.
What was it that the Holy Spirit did to them, and how did the miracles of change come about? Even though we are dealing with mysteries, that doesn’t mean we can’t understand anything about it. We have to realize that the apostles were wounded people. They were wounded by doubt and grief, by fear and failure, and above all by sense of inadequacy.
Jean Vanier is a man who knows a great deal about what helps wounded people to change. He has set up little communities around the world for (mentally) handicapped people. When the handicapped are locked away in institutions, terrible damage is done to their hearts and spirits. A wounded body will heal naturally, but not a wounded heart. A wounded heart will harden, just to survive, and then fill up with anger and bitterness.
But when the handicapped are taken out of institutions where they are made to feel unwanted, and put into communities where they are loved. Vanier has witnessed, over and over again, the miracle of change.
This helps us to understand something of what happened to the apostles. In saying that the apostles were wounded to the same degree as some handicapped people are. Nevertheless, they were wounded. But after the coming of the Spirit they were changed people. They left their hiding place, and set out courageously to preach the Gospel.
We mustn’t think that the change was affected in an instant. It had to be a gradual thing, a growth process. And growth can be slow and painful. We do not easily let go of old habits and attitudes.
People change when they are given hope; when someone believes in them, and gives them a task to do. Above all, they change when they are loved. They come out of their shells, and hidden energies are released in them. The miracle of human change is the only real miracle.
All of us have a capacity for goodness. We have hands that can care, eyes that can see, ears that can hear, tongues that can speak, feet that can walk, and above all hearts that can love. But each of us has some handicaps, which keep us from realizing our true and full selves. We need someone to awaken us to what is inside us. Someone who will encourage us, and help us grow.
For us followers of Jesus, that someone is the Holy Spirit. The power that changed the apostles is available to us too, the gentle power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit awakens us to the mysterious power within us, encourages us, and helps us grow. The poet Pablo Neruda said: “I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry tree.” That’s what the Spirit does. Amen!
Peace and Everything good!
Fr. Valery Burusu