Let us begin by lighting a candle, making the sign of the Cross, quieting ourselves and welcoming God into the space where we dwell and into our mind and heart.
Play this Taizé chant to aid in coming into this space of prayer. Veni Sancte Spiritus – Come Holy Spirit
Read the following slowly and reflect on the words as you read and pray them.
Where the Spirit is there is creation and new life. Where the Spirit is, there is the living Christ. The Spirit is the breath of God’s creative love, so that whoever lives in the Spirit lives in the ever newness of God.Sr Ilia Delio OSF
Jesus stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”(Lk. 4:16-21)
This is how Luke, writing several decades after the first Easter, chooses to begin his account of the public ministry of Jesus. It is the Sabbath, a day to contemplate the creative and saving work of God as mandated by the Scriptures. People are gathered and ready to listen to the Word of God as they do every week. They bring with them the story of their lives; their hopes, their joys, their sorrows, their fears and their sins. They bring with them the fragile faith that they cling to in a world that seems not to care.
Jesus looks into their hearts and shares with them a word that they need to hear. It is a word about the faithfulness of God who cares about the poor, the blind and all those oppressed by systems and attitudes that leave them downtrodden. It is a word they have heard before, so now they wait to see what light Jesus can shed on it. He simply affirms that this faithful God is here now, accomplishing his word through the gift of the Spirit.
Luke’s intention here is not merely to record what may have happened one day in a synagogue in Nazareth, rather he is sharing the faith of the early Church that every time the community gathers to commemorate the Lord’s day the word is fulfilled in our hearing.
The God of the Scriptures is not asking us just to believe in past events so that we might earn a future reward. No, the risen Christ calls us to contemplate today how the word is fulfilled in our hearing, his Spirit filled community gathers because today God is willing us to live the power of the Spirit in our midst that we may share the Good News of God with the world.
“He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. ”(Jn. 3:34-35)
A Moment of Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges you?
What sensations do you notice in your body – as a reaction to what you have read?
What is the Spirit inviting you to do?
Bring this moment of contemplation to a close. We turn now to the great Franciscan mystic and teacher St. Bonaventure and his prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit: read the prayer slowly aware of where these gifts are needed in your life and in the lives of those you pray for.
Veni Sancte Spiritus!
O Lord Jesus Christ I humbly ask that you would beseech the merciful Father to pour out upon us the gift of the Holy Spirit. May the same Spirit rest upon us, bestowing his sevenfold gifts.
First, grant us the gift of understanding, by which your precepts may enlighten our minds.
Second, grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness.
Third, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the Enemy’s attacks.
Fourth, grant us knowledge, by which we can distinguish good from evil.
Fifth, grant us piety, by which we may acquire compassionate hearts.
Sixth, grant us fear, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good.
Seventh, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love.
Allow a moment of quiet
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Come Holy Spirit and open up the word of God for us, that we may find there our hope, our courage and our joy.
Through a faith filled sharing of the word may we become more authentic witnesses of the transforming power of your love so that the whole world may join in the praise of our liberator God. Amen
End with playing this piece of music from Bernadette Farrell, Spirit of God
And we end – In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen