by Orlando Hernandez
The 12th chapter of Luke, which is cited in this week’s masses, has so many harsh, challenging sayings of Jesus. I accept them humbly, but this week I’m so filled with His Holy Spirit that I must focus on all the blessings that He promises us. In this Tuesday’s Gospel our Lord says:
“ Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like the servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.” (LK 12: 35-37)
In this Wednesday’s Gospel Jesus’s promise continues:
“ Who then is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.” (Lk 12: 42-43)
These words by our Lord illuminate my wonderful memory of so many of His servants that I met last weekend at the Life in the Spirit Seminar, lovingly presented by the Immaculate Conception Charismatic Prayer Group in Astoria, Queens, NY. These folks were a shining example of what ministry should be. About forty or more people were involved in the scheduling of activities, the hauling and setting up of tables, posters, audio visual equipment, musical instruments, prayer materials, and food, lots of delicious food. Then there were the many presentations leading up to the Baptism of the Spirit and the triumphant celebration of the Eucharist. It was a monumental job, but so rewarding!
Two weeks ago, just like the unemployed men standing around at the square in Jesus’s parable of the workers for the vineyard, I was just relaxing outside of the chapel at the Passionist Monastery, when Grace Bernardo, the tireless leader of the prayer group, invited me to participate in the Life in the Spirit event. I was to give a talk, and to be part of the prayer team during the Baptism of the Spirit, two jobs requiring a lot of commitment and preparation. I worked for weeks on my presentation, and prayed just as much. During that blessed weekend I did the best I could. I had not felt that I was good enough and had to put it in the hands of God. But I was not afraid as I was swept by such a powerful flow of goodness and love coming from everyone around me. Wow, how much can I learn from these holy people, humble and strong in their faith, blessing me merely by their presence and example!
The Master of the House was there from the beginning. He came with His Holy Spirit and lovingly waited on us in such a splendid way. His joy was in the music and in the smiles of His workers. He was there, feeding us with His grace and love, empowering us with so many of the gifts and fruits of His Spirit. I would find that in the very middle of an activity, a presentation, or a job, I would be suddenly flooded with sensations of peace, of understanding, of awe, strength, hope, generosity, the need to give, give, give, and so much joy! I saw this in everyone else. I saw the smiling Jesus in their faces of love. The Master was giving us a glimpse of His heavenly feast.
Serving the Lord like this is not easy. It can be exhausting, even scary, especially when you pray for the Spirit in all His power to come and fill the person before you. But boy, can He be the Life of the party, abundant Life! We celebrated in His Love all weekend. Healing, hope, and unity flowered all around us.
I am resting and recovering today (maybe I’m too old for this?) with a smile on my face as my aches and pains subside. Relaxing….. until the next job!