A Homily for Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
April 18, 2024
Holy Ghost Church – 8:00 Mass
Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 66:8-9, 16-17, 20; John 6:44-51

Audio Recording

 

The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.” Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. This account of Philip and the eunuch was clearly the shortest RCIA class ever!

At this midway point of the Easter season, the Church is beginning to slowly turn our attention to the celebration of Pentecost, which will conclude these glorious days in just a few weeks. The Holy Spirit, whose coming we celebrate at Pentecost, is truly dwelling within us and He wants to act powerfully in our lives, especially if we are attentive to His promptings.

As baptized Christians who are seeking to follow the way of the Lord, there are numerous times in which the Holy Spirit will give us these SMALL PROMPTINGS, promptings like the one Philip received in today’s first reading. Our theological tradition calls this ACTUAL GRACE, which acts upon us in an external way.

Actual grace is different from HABITUAL GRACE, or sanctifying grace, that lives within us. Sanctifying grace transforms us and shapes us from within. It is that grace we receive in baptism and is strengthened in confirmation. It is further strengthened whenever we receive the Eucharist in a state of grace.

Actual grace, however, is outside of us. It’s moves upon us. The Catechism says that actual graces “…refer to God’s INTERVENTIONS, whether at the beginning of conversion or in the course of the work of sanctification.” (CCC 2000)

Actual grace is revealed to us as small promptings we receive when we go through our day prayerfully and desire to be attentive to the Holy Spirit in any given situation.

The Spirit’s prompting might be, “don’t say this,” “say that,” “reach out to this person,” “don’t go there,” “get that gift for this person,” “go the extra mile,” “don’t go the extra mile,” and so on.

These small promptings given to us by the Holy Spirit throughout our day, these actual graces, and all throughout our lives, are what should guide our daily lives. We’re called to hear them and say yes to them, to truly surrender our entire lives to God’s will by realizing that I’m not in control, I’m not going to try to determine what my day is supposed to be. I’m going to do what the Holy Spirit asks.

The Holy Spirit may say, hey, go to this person and tell them this, this, or this. I’m going to be aware of these small promptings of the Spirit and say“Okay, I’m going to do this.” Or, at times He might tell us NOT to go the extra mile right now because that might be enabling something that’s hurtful. So don’t do that.

My point is this is happening and can happen all throughout the day. Go here, do this, say that, don’t do this. And the idea is that when we’re living by the Spirit we’re just constantly asking, “what do you want of me?” And that’s what we do…it’s what we should want to do! As long as what is being asked is within the context of faith and morals – because the Holy Spirit will never call us to violate the moral law, the moral truth – as long as it’s within faith and morals, we can be quite sure that the promptings we’re receiving are from the Holy Spirit and He’s asking us to do, or not do, something.

So often, dear friends, by responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we can actually be answering the prayers of someone else. We should be asking “Lord, tell me this, teach me this, help me to know what to do or say in this situation.” And then the Holy Spirit prompts us to say something.

We may not understand what role we’re playing or why this is important. We’re simply called to TRUST AND OBEY, to follow these small promptings. So listen, dear friends, in your heart, to the small promptings of the Holy Spirit.”

Just as Philip listened and acted upon the prompting of the Holy Spirit to “Go and join up with the eunuch’s chariot,” we too should listen and act upon His promptings. God will surely lead us into all truth and use us to accomplish His will, each and every day, if we do.

Dear friends, walking with the Holy Spirit in this way results in the experience of God’s joy in our lives, regardless of our life’s circumstances. When we lay our heads down to sleep at night and reflect back on our day, we will know that we have listened to the Holy Spirit and we’ll rejoice in the knowledge that He has truly been working through us. And what a wonderful consolation that is!

God bless you.