"And at every turn the Holy Spirit continues to surprise and heal and give us courage."
“I was weeping in the most bitter contrition of my heart, when I heard the voice of children from a neighboring house chanting, 'take up and read; take up and read.' I could not remember ever having heard the like, so checking the torrent of my tears, I arose, interpreting it to be no other than a command from God to open the book and read the first chapter I should find. Eagerly then I returned to the place where I had laid the volume of the apostle. I seized, opened, and in silence read that section on which my eyes first fell: 'Not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.' No further would I read, nor did I need to. For instantly at the end of this sentence, it seemed as if a light of serenity infused into my heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.
The task is daunting, to go out and preach the Word of God to a hostile world. That is what the apostles were called to do. That is what we are called to do.” -Augustine, Confessions
By the power of the Holy Spirit, Augustine was converted from a life of hedonism and debauchery. As a Christian, he became a priest and then bishop. His contribution to our understanding of the faith has earned him the title of Doctor of the Church, a title shred by only 35 others in the long history of the Church.
The Holy Spirit has been at work a very long time.
After the Ascension, the apostles hid in the darkness with the doors locked. Wondering what they were to do next. They wondered how they were to fulfill this mission. The Spirit descended upon them and they broke out of their isolation. Rushing into the market square, they spoke openly of God in all the tongues of the world.
We should not huddle in the dark afraid to go out, afraid to expose ourselves to hostility. It doesn’t matter if the congregation, the world that is the church, does not like us. It does not even matter if we do not like them.
We are the shepherds, the pastors. It is our job. The flock is in need and we are bearers of the Gospel, the announcers of salvation and forgiveness. We have to go. We have a mission. And we are not without help or resources. The Holy Spirit of God has been given to us to strengthen us and gives us the grace we need to accomplish the work that has been set before us.
On that first day, five thousand were baptized into the Kingdom. And at every turn the Holy Spirit continues to surprise and heal and give us courage.
That first day was over two thousand years ago, imagine what we are capable of now.