Receiving a Full Portion of the Spirit

John 3:31-36

There is a sentence embedded in the Gospel reading that we just heard that is intriguing.  It says “God does not ration the gift of the Spirit." This is an intriguing thought because sometimes we don't feel like there's enough of that gift to satisfy us, or we didn't get our fair share. But, do we actually think that the Father would limit the gift of his Spirit to us?  Jesus says that the Father did not ration the Spirit to him (Jesus), but could it be that God is treating us differently than his son?


In our first reading today, Peter says that the Holy Spirit has been given to all who obey the Father.  So, can we conclude then that since Jesus always obeyed, and we sometimes don't, that the Father would give us less of his Spirit than he gave to Jesus?


How about another question: Is the Father's love ever limited?  Can he partially love anyone?  We know that can't be true!  There is no such thing as "partial love".  Love is love!  God, who is love, fully and completely loves each of us.  So why does it feel like he gave Jesus the fullness of the Spirit but only a portion to us?


Here's where we might find the explanation: The Son stayed fully in touch with the Father and was therefore open to receiving everything that the Father wanted to give him, hearing everything the Father told him, and doing everything the Father worked supernaturally through him.  When we were baptized into the life of Christ, the Father gave us his Spirit fully. The problem is, we're not always fully in touch with the Father.


Our shortfall is not in God's lack of attentiveness to us, it is in our lack of attentiveness to him. Our worldly attachments and busyness distract us.  Our sins build a dam that holds back the waters of the Spirit.


The Saints have experienced the power of the Spirit in amazing miracles, because they worked hard daily at breaking down the barriers between this world and heaven. They worked hard at purging out all the sins and distractions that disconnected them from God.  They actively pursued the light, not darkness.  We might respond with, "yeah, but I'll never be that holy". But in saying that, we sell ourselves short. We become content with the progress we've made and so we plateau at a place that becomes comfortable for us. We see hard work ahead, and so we turn onto paths that look pleasant and easy.


Both readings remind us that we must keep our allegiance to God and not man, where our pride-filled inclinations always take us.  There are a lot of people who may consider themselves righteous, but what is the source of their righteousness?  If the flesh and our earthly needs have become the source of our righteousness, then it’s no longer righteousness that we've achieved, its self righteousness, seeking glory for self.  If we open ourselves to allow the gift of the Spirit to be the source, it produces humility, which gives the glory to God and builds communion with him.


The most important priority of our lives should be the nurturing of our communion with God.  We need to ask ourselves, do we care enough about our personal spiritual development (no matter our age) that we'll be willing to work hard enough for it?  Can we work at it daily?


Going back to what Peter said in the First Reading: “the Holy Spirit has been given to all who obey the Father”, we must make that obedience a constant endeavor throughout daily life.  Mother Teresa once said, “You will not have the readiness to say "yes" to the great things if you do not train yourselves to say "yes" to the thousand and one occasions of obedience that come your way throughout the day.”


The Father is not the one who rations the Holy Spirit to us. We limit the extent of the Spirit's very powerful affect on our lives by neglecting to center ourselves fully in God. We let distractions pull us off-center. We let sin pull us even farther away.


So, let's observe the decisions that we make today (and each day) while asking ourselves: "Am I choosing the way of holiness?  Am I staying centered on God's love for me and my love for him?" By making the right decisions – the holy and loving and soul-nurturing decisions –our lives can become flooded with God's Spirit.


So, let us pray to God that he will help us recognize our unfulfilled potential that each of us has (even those of us who’ve been around the block more than a few times), to see and hear the spirit more fully, and continue the march toward holiness, a status that we can't attain ourselves, but with God's help, it can become a reality.


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