There is an excerpt from Marianne Williamson’s book A Return To Love that goes: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.” “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” “It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” “We ask ourselves: Who am I to be beautiful, brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?” “Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.” “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.” “There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” “We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” “It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.” “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” “As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
This statement became popular because it was quoted by Nelson Mandela in his Inaugural Speech in 1994.
I remembered these words of Marianne Williamson when I was reading again the story of the Apostles after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Today’s gospel passage describes them to be hiding behind locked doors. Though it says that they are hiding “for fear of the Jews, but I believe that Williamson’s statement about one’s “deepest fear” is relevant and applicable to the fearful disciples as well.
The risen Lord does not need to use the words of Williamson to make his disciples see the real reason for their fear and to realize how this fear is preventing them from being the kind of disciples he wants them to be – how it is preventing them from becoming the best persons he intends them to become. Christ has his own way of making his disciples realize how powerful they are and can be if only they were to let God’s light shine in them and through them. This also talks about us.
Pentecost tells us that only in the gift of the Holy Spirit is fear changed into freedom. We have to receive the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live according to God’s will. And we have to let the Holy Spirit inspire us to understand the past anew, to live the present meaningfully, and to see the future with hope. We have to let the Holy Spirit help us to realize how good, how beautiful, how wonderful we are because we are children of God, created in the image and likeness of God. We have to let the Holy Spirit enable us to manifest the glory of God that is within us, to be a living reflection of his love, to be a visible sign of his goodness and generosity. We have to let the Holy Spirit to expand ourselves, to move us out of our comfort zones, to reach out to others in friendship, to commit ourselves to a life of service and make the kingdom of God a concrete reality in the lives of people.
Like a great and holy enabler, it is the Holy Spirit who aids us to know, to love and to serve the Lord, and who empowers us to follow Christ and to imitate his ways. Hans Urs von Balthasar, a Swiss theologian and a priest, once explained that the human mind, on its own, is inadequate to understand Jesus and God. That is why the Holy Spirit is given to us.
“Receive the Holy Spirit… Let the Holy Spirit work in you… Let Spirit power be operative in your life.” This is the powerful message of Pentecost to us. So let us allow the Holy Spirit to change and transform us, and to embolden us as we carry on Christ’s mission. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to move us away from being too busy, too caught up in our own selfish little worlds, too preoccupied with our own wants and needs. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to empty us of the distorted values of materialism, consumerism, relativism, and hedonism, and imbue us with the gospel values – the values of humility, simplicity, service, and trust in the divine providence. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to make us a caring, forgiving, and loving people.
Yes, you and I need the Holy Spirit more than ever before – to enliven us, to empower us, to inspire us to be good and to do good.