Jesus did not deny that he was possessed. A fire burned strong within him and many were warmed by its affection and brushed by its holiness. He did not hoard this Spirit; he gave it away. Totally. And those few who have decisively and consciously received this Spirit do not say so. They have no need. They also give it away much as a tree drops its fruit for human refreshment. These fruits are many and they are various. Fine things like love and joy and peace.

Every age sees itself as uniquely catastrophic; many become dispirited and some desperate. The defeatist is a person possessed by negation, who has lost heart and hope and sees no possibility of reprieve or redemption.

Yet there is another spirit contending for possession of the human heart and this spirit will not surrender to adversity. Its symbols are wind and fire, primordial things and not of human manufacture. This spirit lives in contest with all that is lifeless, all that is loveless. It animates – that is its genius. In a man or woman it is evident in courage and a refusal to take cover in cynicism. In a society it is evident in its power to harmonise. It can quieten conflict and heal division. It is a spirit of wholeness, of holiness, and releases a sick society like ours from deadness and division.

But spirit is not at our command. It is the given, the God-given, and its proper verb is ‘’receive’. All we can do is receive the Spirit. For the Spirit is always abroad, endlessly blowing, but the timid heart resists its invasion. The Spirit is only for the receptive, for those whose hearts are open, whose eyes are alert, whose attitude remains one of wonder.

St. Paul tell us that a life nourished by the Holy Spirit is like a tree which bears good fruit. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’.

God’s Spirit is the source of our life, so may we bear much fruit. Amen.

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