Friday, May 25, 2018

Sacrifice and service by the power of the Holy Spirit

Enjoy this reflection that we wrote together as a community, at the request of Bishop Milan, for a group of Scouts--young men ages 18-25--on pilgrimage from Assisi to Rome. We were asked to write about Sts. Cyril and Methodius as an example of sacrifice and service. In light of the feast of Pentecost, we reflected on the Holy Spirit's role in providing the grace and ability to lay down our lives and preach the Gospel, each in our own unique way.

“Blessed are you, O Christ our God. You have shown the fishermen to be all wise, sending down upon them the Holy Spirit. Through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. O Lover of Mankind, glory to You” (Pentecost Troparion).

Reflecting on the Feast of Pentecost reveals Ss. Cyril and Methodius to be examples to you. These “Equals to the Apostles” responded to the gift of the Holy Spirit with an outpouring of themselves in love, manifested in sacrifice and service.

Jesus’ pursuit of love for you is relentless, but He will not trespass. He waits for your consent, like the Theotokos’ fiat, like the Apostles “yes” to His call, “Come follow Me.” He calls you beyond a superficial walk with Him into the mystery of His love unto death. Your “yes” is a yes unto death, a dying to self; here you find your fulfillment. St. John Paul II said. “Man cannot fully find himself, except through a sincere gift of himself” (Theology of the Body).

There is a particular way that God is calling you to lay down your life, and you will be given the gifts you need. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave the uneducated fishermen the ability to proclaim the mighty works of God in many languages (see Acts 2:1-11). Similarly, the Holy Spirit enlightened two Greek brothers, Ss. Cyril and Methodius, with a tremendous ability to create an alphabet for a foreign language, thus enabling them to translate Scripture, Liturgy, and sacred writings for the Slavic people. Your gift may not be one of language, but you may be surprised by the gifts you are given. 

We all receive gifts from the Holy Spirit, and we are called to use them in service. We have the example of Jesus Who washes His disciples’ feet. In service—a true gift of self—you always risk rejection by those you serve. As Jesus was rejected by Judas, whose feet He had just washed, so Ss. Cyril and Methodius experienced rejection, resistance, frustration and persecution, which are all challenges that you may face when you seek to respond to the Holy Spirit. Jesus teaches us, “There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life…” (John 15:13). St. John also said, “By this we know love, that Jesus laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for each other” (1 John 3:14).

It can be frightening to think of laying down your life or being rejected. Scripture tells us that even if father or mother rejects you, God will not reject you (Psalm 27:10). It is through spending time with Him in prayer and partaking in the Holy Mysteries that you receive the power of the Holy Spirit and know that you are not alone. You will find joy and peace when you surrender yourself to God without reserve and conditions, desiring nothing but His will and letting Him act as He knows best. At Pentecost, the Apostles received the grace and courage to go out and proclaim the Gospel and to lay down their lives. The Holy Spirit will give you the courage to lay down your life in sacrifice and service. Be not afraid. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:16-18).

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