[Jesus said to his disciples:] “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.” (John 16:12-13)
Imagine arriving in a foreign country for the first time. The language is different, the terrain is unfamiliar, and there is little that feels like home. Luckily, you encounter a kind soul who goes by the name of “Spirit of Truth”, and he offers to be your guide. After taking care of your luggage, he opens the door to the passenger seat of his car, and you’re on your way! Your destination is hours away, and while you feel lost, he assures you that he has made this trip thousands of times.
Spirit, as he prefers to be called, explains that while his land is rich in its history and beauty, it can’t be truly appreciated in one sitting and from one angle. Each twist and turn in the road will afford a new, unique perspective of the country’s landscape. “I have much to tell you, but you cannot receive it all now; sit back, enjoy the trip as it gradually unfolds.”
Our Perpetual Guide
Discipleship, as in the above illustration, can only be realized one day at a time. The Holy Spirit, our perpetual guide, metes out the precise measure of truth in a calculation that is based on our present “location” in life’s journey, our willingness, and our ever-changing capacity to receive as much truth as we can “bear” on any given day. Even if we don’t get it exactly right, we can be assured that our efforts and prayers are placed in the safe care of the Holy Spirit:
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. (Romans 8:26)
St. Peter, when asked about the truth and ramifications of the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, offers additional testimony as to the “roadmap” of our journey toward Heaven:
Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.” He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day. They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. (Acts 2:38-42)
The Weeds and the Wheat
How many believers across the centuries have found themselves right smack dab in the midst of a “crooked generation”? My guess is that, in any given time period, the “weeds and the wheat” have been present in varying ratios in different places. How can one be saved when the weeds of crookedness are seemingly everywhere? This parable from Jesus offers a practical lesson:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24-30)
As we gather as God’s “wheat” on the Sundays following Pentecost, in the final leg of the liturgical year, let us celebrate Ordinary Time by entering more deeply into Church teaching, fellowship, and the “breaking of bread and the prayers” that constitute the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.