Written by Sr. Rosemary, O.P.
Based on readings: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052819.cfm
The other day I received an email from a friend and she ended with a quote that really spoke to me. It was from a book called ‘Anchors for the Soul” by Joyce Rupp and the quote was: “I will watch for how Love surprises me.”
I hope it’s been your experience, as has been mine, that something unexpected happens that you obviously didn’t plan or anticipate, which catches you off guard and completely change your way of thinking or what you were about to do. For me, it’s those seemingly chance encounters that got me to Florida and my many ministries along the way. For you, it might be how you met your spouse, or how you found your job, etc. These big and small surprises, some good, some unsettling or challenging like health issues, can be transforming for us if we’re open to them.
I thought about that quote, “I will watch for how Love surprises me’, when I read about the jailer in our first reading today. Little did he know when he went to work that morning to guard some prisoners named Paul and Silas that his life would be turned upside down by the end of the day. As the story goes, an earthquake shook the jail and loosened the chains of all the prisoners. The jailer, knowing he would be blamed if the prisoners escaped, almost killed himself in distress. Paul and Silas, however, told him not to harm himself, that they were still there, and in that surprising encounter, the jailer was converted. At great risk to himself, he took them home to his family, bathed their wounds, and fed them. That night, he and his whole household were baptized. The overwhelming power of love surely surprised him.
In two short weeks, we’ll celebrate Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit who has been called by many names: Breath of God, Comforter, Advocate, Counselor, Paraclete, even ‘wind’ which blows where it will.
But perhaps our own experience of the Spirit would prompt us to call the Holy Spirit “Surprise”. It is those unexpected and unanticipated times in our lives that have stretched us, tested and challenged us to grow in our faith. That is the Holy Spirit revealing the divine to us, guiding us on our winding path, and enabling us to grow in grace.
May we let this coming Pentecost be a reminder that the Holy Spirit is still at work in us and in the world and can show up anywhere at any time. Like that jailer who was initially caught off guard but eventually transformed, are we open to see the Holy Spirit where we couldn’t even imagine and in people we least expect? Don’t we believe that the Holy Spirit is a powerful force of God’s love? If so, then truly that quote is worth pondering: “I will watch for how Love surprises me.”