Friday, May 17, 2024

The Holy Spirit and the "Groaning" of Our Times

The wars that have intensified during this decade continue to escalate, widening the circle of those under imminent danger, and suggesting that the world is likely to face new perils and catastrophes in the near future. We will all have to face these burdens in some measure, on top of our own personal struggles, failures, frustration and grief. What prevents us from being overwhelmed by fear?

As Pentecost 2024 approaches, it is good once again to ponder prayerfully certain passages from Romans, chapter 8. There is much here that resonates with our own personal sufferings, as well as the sufferings in our world so full of desperation and violence and yet so immensely loved by God.

The Holy Spirit brings hope that transforms our own seemingly inexplicable sorrows into prayer. The Spirit is also at work—profoundly and mysteriously—in the midst of the often-confused, obscure, sometimes hesitant, sometimes ardent longings of people all over the world who seek the truth, who seek healing.

The truth remains that every human heart belongs to God.

Every human heart belongs to God, to the Father who lovingly creates and sustains the heart; to the Son—Jesus—who redeems the heart from sin and enters into the depths of every human burden and misery; to the Holy Spirit poured out as Gift of Love and the power to live as children of God, in abandonment to Infinite Mercy who holds us and carries us through all the agony and danger and terrors we might be called to endure in our lives, in this moment in history.

We must offer our “groaning within ourselves” in solidarity with all those who search for light in the darkness—a search that the Spirit awakens and sustains in the depths of their hearts. Thus we can share our hope for salvation, knowing that the same Spirit who works with us is calling and drawing every person. In the Spirit, our patience, our endurance, our sufferings will bear fruit in Jesus Christ, according to the wisdom and love of God.

We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit ­himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

~Romans 8:22-27