Memorial of Saint Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church
We are in the midst of the Easter season, but how do we continue to live our lives as “resurrection” people. Both readings today reveal the answer- the Spirit of God. God’s Spirit inspires us with the courage, love and grace that we need to go forth and build the Kingdom of God.
In the first reading, John and Peter return after being warned to no longer preach in the name of Jesus. The community of the disciples joins together “with one accord” and prayerfully asks for God’s guidance and strength. They are filled with the Holy Spirit and go forth to” speak the word of God with boldness.” These early disciples recognize their complete dependence on God and His Spirit to provide courage, wisdom, healing, and strength in the midst of the hostile environment that they are facing. They trust, and God delivers with an outpouring of His Spirit to embolden them in their witness.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells Nicodemus that that the Spirit from above is necessary for anyone to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus further explains that the Spirit moves in ways that are unknown. Just like the wind “blows where it wills and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.” When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, the words and deeds of that individual give evidence of the Spirit within. Those that are inspired by the Spirit must trust that the Spirit will lead them where they can become who they are called to be (even though they do not always know where this will lead.) The works and signs of a life lived in the Spirit will reveal that “God is with” that individual-just like Nicodemus knows that God is with Jesus because of the signs that Jesus performs.
So how can we be inspired by the Holy Spirit? We are all filled with God’s Spirit, since it is God who has given us breath. Recognizing the Spirit within us and learning to depend on the Spirit’s movements requires prayer and trust. In daily activities, stopping to place a situation or decision in God’s Hands allows the Spirit to direct and guide both our thoughts and actions. There may be times when we are listening and follow the Spirit’s call and end up with a situation that does not turn out how we thought it should. Sometimes in the midst of confusion and struggles, the Spirit is able to bring about the greatest growth and blessing not just for us, but for others as well. Knowing that the Spirit is alive within us should be a source of great consolation and strength, since no matter what we face, we are not alone. Easter is a reminder God can and will overcome all sorrow, evil and even death. When we trust in God’s Spirit within, we are also able to overcome and transform the challenges we face into avenues of new life.
Today is the feast of St. Catherine of Siena. Her vision of God’s love allowed her to realize the importance of completely trusting in Him. She said, ‘He will provide the way and the means, such as you could never have imagined. Leave it all to Him, let go of yourself, lose yourself on the Cross, and you will find yourself entirely.” When we “die” to ourselves and trust in the Spirit within, we find who we are meant to be. St. Catherine also recognizes that a person alive in the Spirit has great power- “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” There is great need for love, peace, mercy, and compassion in our world. The Spirit in each of us is ready to ignite the world with God’s goodness. We need to die to ourselves, so through the Spirit we can rise with Christ as His “resurrection” people.
Loving Father, Jesus shows us how you can bring new life from death. Through the grace of Your Spirit, guide our thoughts, words, and actions, so we can die to our ways and become on fire with Your love. May our lives be signs of Your goodness for all to witness. We pray this through Christ, our LORD. Amen.