Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Ps 98:1-4; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17
Good mothers are such a blessing for their husbands and children. I pray for a great increase of God’s love into all mothers as they go about their daily tasks of caring for others. That is what divine and Christ’s love is. As we serve we get drained. That is why our prayer life plugs us into God’s limitless resource of charging our love battery so we can continue to love others. As you have much work to do within the family, cooking, cleaning, shopping and caring for children, know you can draw on God’s presence within you to have extra energy to do all the things required of a loving mother.
Two readings today from St. John speak about God’s love. God has loved us first, 1 Jn 4:10. The Father sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into our world to show us, as a divine/human person what love truly is. He trained disciples and empowered them to love other. Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sins and unfaithfulness. He brought people into his kingdom at baptism. Our Bible teaches us how to live in love. We have a limitless source of God’s power within us. That is why we have to love and care for others especially baptized Christians. Because God is dwelling in us.
Our faith tells us that love is far more than self-seeking pleasure. The Holy Spirit of God’s truth shows us God’s characteristics for love not what is politically correct. In 1 Corinthians 3:4-8, St. Paul gives us sixteen definitions of God’s love, I give them in the positive. They are easier to understand. Love is patient, kind, respectful of others, humble, open to others, courteous, willing to help others, understanding, forgiving, compassionate, truthful, enduring, trusting, hoping, persevering, and lasts forever. It is not easy to be all of those definitions of love. That is why we need God’s wisdom, understanding and power to do these things for others.
The first reading today from Acts of the Apostles 10 tells the story of Cornelius, a good, God-fearing Roman centurion well respected by the Jewish community who was searching for God. An angel appeared telling him that his prayers had been heard. He was to send for Peter in Joppa. Peter and some companions went to speak to Cornelius’ household about God. As Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit came upon the whole household. How did Peter know that? The family was “speaking in tongues” and glorifying God. Please read the rest of the story. It’s wonderful.
As a Pentecostal Franciscan Roman Catholic priest of 45 years I am bound to explain this gift of tongues. It is almost never given in Mass readings and most don’t understand. This gift today basically comes with the Sacrament of Confirmation. We need more power in our prayer and I think 95% of those confirmed get this gift but we are not telling people about it. With it we are allowing the Holy Spirit to pray to our Father for the accomplishment of his will. At times we are praising and worshiping God, interceding for others and uttering mysteries in the Holy Spirit. We need more divine power to eradicate so much evil that is going on in our own country and around the world. Satan and all his emissaries ultimately won’t succeed. Jesus will victoriously win after he destroys all evil. I pray you and I are on God’s winning team, if we want to get to heaven. We can help God change the world by our frequent payer, fasting and sharing.
Here are most of the New Testament texts about speaking in tongues, a very important gift of the Holy Spirit. We often do not know how to pray in situations but the Holy Spirit knows everything and he wants to pray in and through us.
Praying or Speaking in tongues: “To each person the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given for the common good,” 1 Cor 12:7. It works in five different ways if you study all of these texts.
1) It is for everyone. "Signs like these will accompany those who have professed their faith: they will use My Name to expel demons, they will speak entirely new languages, (handle serpents, drink poison without harm,) and the sick upon whom they lay their hands will recover," Mk 16:17-18.
2) It was experienced at Pentecost by all. "All were filled with the Holy Spirit. They began to express themselves in foreign tongues and make bold proclamation as the Holy Spirit prompted them," Acts 2:4.
3) It is power for ministry. The foreign visitors "…each hears them speaking in his own tongues about the marvels God had accomplished. They were dumbfounded and could make nothing at all of what had happened,” Acts 2:11-12. Preaching on Pentecost, 3,000 baptized.
4) It is simple, but not easy. "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spoke with tongues and prophesied," Acts 19:6.
5) There are many different languages in the world and all are marked by sound, 1Cor 12:10.
6) It is important for our spiritual growth in love. “I should like it if all of your “spoke in tongues. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal," 1 Cor 13:1.
7) It is a type of communication with God. “A person who speaks in a tongue is talking not to people but to God. No one understands that one. Because he/she utters mysteries in the Holy Spirit,” 1 Cor 14:2.
8) It revolutionizes our prayer life. "He or she who speaks in a tongue builds up themselves, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. I should like it if all of your spoke in tongues, but I much prefer that you prophesy (in the assembly)," 1 Cor 14: 4-5 a.
9) It is the Holy Spirit praying through you but your mind is blank. “If I pray in a tongues my spirit is at prayer but my mind contributes nothing,” 1 Cor 14:14.
10) It is also thanksgiving yet others don’t understand. “If your praise of God is solely with the Holy Spirit, how will the one who does not comprehend be able to say ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving?” 1 Cor 14:16.
11) It is at times heard in a larger group when one person speaks alone and out loud in a different language, then St. Paul says “If any are going to TALK in tongues let it be “at most two or three, each in turn, with another to interpret what they are saying,” 1 Cor 14:27.
12) It is a grace given by God. “Peter had not finished these words when the Holy Spirit descended upon all who were listening to Peter’s message (Cornelius’ family). The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were surprised that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, 46 whom they could hear speaking in tongues and glorifying God," Acts 10:44-46.
13) It is a prayer for all times. "At every opportunity pray in the Spirit, using prayers and petitions of every sort," Eph 6:18.
14) It needs more solid teaching to be given by leaders. "And God has appointed in the church: apostles, prophets, teachers, then miracle workers, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues," 1 Cor 12:28.
15) It is necessary to produce an atmosphere of praise. “It is written in the law, ‘In strange tongues and in alien speech I will speak to this people, and even so they will not heed me, says the Lord.’ The gift of tongues is a sign, not for those who believe but for those who do not believe, while prophecy is not for those who are without faith but for those who have faith,” 1 Cor 14:21-22.
16) It is a fruit bearer. "To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit… to another various kinds of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills," 1 Cor 12: 7 10 and 11.
17) It means that you must yield your voice to the Holy Spirit’s new language(s). In the Baptism in the Holy Spirit you yield your spirit; in the Gift of Tongues you yield your voice mechanism; in the Gift of Prophecy you yield your mind; and in “Resting in the Spirit” you yield your body. "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you, but in the church (assembly) I would rather say 5 intelligible words to instruct others than 10,000 words in a tongue," 1 Cor 14:18-19
18) It is a powerful prayer of intercession. "The Holy Spirit too helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought; but the Holy Spirit himself makes intercession…. He who searches hearts knows what the Holy Spirit means, for the Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints as God himself wills," Romans 8:26-7.
19) It is not to be forbidden yet all done in order. "Set your hearts on prophecy, my brothers and sisters, and do not forbid those who speak in tongues, but make sure that everything is done properly and in order," 1 Cor 14:39-40.
20) It helps your faith grow stronger. “But you, beloved, grow strong in your holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit,” Jude 20.
Have a special week expecting the protection and blessings of the Holy Spirit.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2015 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)