Musings from a 27 -Year-Old on Pentecost

Today is Pentecost. It also happens to be my birthday. Two very important events (at least in my world).

Last night, when I went to bed, I was thinking about how I thought life would be at 27. I’ve always loved having a plan. When I was 16, I knew that by 22 I’d be married and by 32 I’d have had 4 babies, I was going to live in New York City and be a doctor (or at very least, marry one). That was my plan. If i had told my 16-year-old self that at 27 I would not be married, nor would I have any children; that instead of NYC, I’d be moving back to NH from Illinois, about to receive an MA in Theology from the University of Notre Dame; I’d have thought something had gone terribly wrong.

This morning, as I sat in Church reflecting on Pentecost, I wondered what the Apostles’ plans had been 11 years prior to Pentecost; what they would have thought if someone had told them at that time that instead of a tax collector or fisher, they would be the first followers of the Son of God. Surely, it would have been nothing they could have ever predicted, or dreamed of, or planned for. And yet … it would be better.

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, descends upon the Apostles and emboldens them, allowing them to go into the world and proclaim the Word of God. It is this same Spirit that we receive for the first time at Baptism and that which we are sealed with at Confirmation.

Jesus says the Holy Spirit will “teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn 14: 26). And how are we to respond? Just as Mary’s fiat gave the Holy Spirit permission to hallow within her a temple to let the Logos dwell; we too must give the Holy Spirit our fiat, so that we might allow him to dwell within us. Through this act of surrender, we will be conformed to the image of Christ, the very image in which we have been created.

Moreover, when we turn our lives over to the movements of the Holy Spirit, God takes our blemished (often mediocre) plans, and gives us a new hope and future, full of dreams we never dared to dream.

As I knelt during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I caught my dad’s eye, “this is when you were born,” he mouthed, pointing to his watch. And I smiled. To exist at a time such as this, to be recalling the life which God knit in my mother’s womb and allowed to be brought into this world, at the exact moment the priest proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Blessed am I that I should behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. I thanked God for all the prayers He’s answered (in ways seen and unseen, in ways hoped for and in ways unexpected), for the family He’s blessed me with, for the new dreams he’s given me.

27 is not what I expected, not what I planned for. And yet . . . it is better.

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