Comes the Spirit

Today’s first reading is from one of my favorite books: The Book of Jonah. The book is only four chapters long and we are in Chapter 3. The whole Jonah and the “whale” has already happened, Jonah has traveled to Nineveh as a very reluctant prophet. Frankly Jonah hopes that God calls down a rain of fire, death, doom and destruction upon the king, the people, and all the animals. His entire call to conversion is five words in Hebrew. We get a few  more in English, but not many: “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.” Jonah does not say who will destroy them or why or in any way amplify the bottom line.

When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, he repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to them; he did not carry it out.” (Jonah 3:10) Great! The Ninevites repented, God relented, and Jonah’s prophetic mission is complete. But poor Jonah, it’s not the result he wanted. Chapter 4 is a long description of Jonah pouting about this turn of events.

But such are the turn of events when the Holy Spirit comes in ways you’d never expect.

It happens all the time to every homilist if we are honest. Sometimes I sit and wonder from whence came the idea for a particular homily. But mostly I am surprised after the homily.

A person comes up to say, “Thank you, Father, your homily really touched me. It was just what I needed to hear.”  Often I will ask them what moved their hearts. The reply is often not the point of the homily, but there was one word, one phrase upon which the Holy Spirit descended and turned into a seed which will bear great fruit in the life of the listener.

But such are the turn of events when the Holy Spirit comes in ways you’d never expect.

Enthusiastic or reluctant, gifted or timid, … whatever… speak into the waiting world. The Spirit can take over from that point.

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