Encountering God after the worldliness of the work week
Saturday morning always feels like the least “spiritual” time of the week for me, and yet it often turns into the best encounter of the week with God.
I usually wake up on Saturday tired from a long week of work and stress. Even my exercise routine, which I enjoy and find beneficial, leaves me physically tired and sore by Saturday morning. The last five days feel like they have been focused on the “world” and its concerns. Daily prayer time has sustained me, but many times I am also spiritually exhausted after ministry or intercession in the spirit.
This morning, my first thought was “I need to write something; what am I going to write about?” I did not get much farther than that before the cloud of unworthiness from the week descended upon me — “you are a sinner,” “you didn’t pray enough this week,” “you spend all of your time focused on the world,” “you have nothing to say.” Ouch!
Because God loves a humble and contrite heart, I began with a prayer of repentance for my sins of the week. I covered myself with the Blood of Jesus, to wash me from sin and worldliness. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to come and inspire me. And I poured a cup of coffee!
And nothing came to mind.
Fortunately, I have learned from past experience that God does not normally “drop in” an entire talk, article or meditation right away. Rather, I need to start moving first. Then the Holy Spirit uses what I am reading or praying about to lead me into a deeper revelation of what He wants to share with me.
I remembered that there was something I read this week I wanted to come back to. The Book of Jude. This passage in the very short Book of Jude had grabbed my attention:
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; they said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.1
What was God trying to say to me? Was He confirming my Saturday morning fears of being too worldly? I read on, and in the following passage I found the nugget of encouragement for this Saturday morning:
But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.2
While Jude may be referring to the recipients of his letter as “beloved,” this immediately reminds us of our relationship with God — we are His “beloved.” Despite our sins and failings, we are God’s children. What father’s heart does not melt when his child throws his arms around him and says he is sorry? We just need to stop for a second and let this truth penetrate our soul — we are His “beloved.”
The rest of the sentence is a concise catechesis on the spiritual life. It grounded me again on the process. We are to build our spiritual structure in this way:
That is, raising by your actions a spiritual building founded 1. upon faith; 2. on the love of God; 3. upon hope, whilst you are awaiting for the mercies of God, and the reward of eternal life; 4. joined with the great duty of prayer.3
Faith, hope and love of God. This is our foundation. But we are reminded that they are “joined with the great duty of prayer.” This “great duty of prayer” is described by Jude as “praying in the Holy Spirit.”
Entire books have been written about prayer in the Holy Spirit. This Saturday morning, however, one point comes to mind. Jesus told us that the Spirit of truth — the Holy Spirit — does not come to the world.4 The Christian journey of prayer requires us to constantly work at being people who are in the world but not of the world.5 Let us strive to leave behind us the spirit of the world! We must be spiritual people and not worldly people to pray in the Holy Spirit.6
“They, therefore, who would possess the supreme good, must first divorce themselves from the spirit of the world, which is the personal enemy of the Spirit of God.”7
Today is the last day of the traditional Octave of Pentecost.8 As this week celebrating the Holy Spirit comes to a close, this reading from the Book of Jude focuses our attention on the foundation for our spiritual building: faith, hope and love, rooted in prayer in the Holy Spirit. As we start moving in the Spirit by reflecting on the Word of God, we begin to wash away the worldliness of the week. Let us put aside our worldly concerns this morning and enter more deeply into an encounter with the living God. Remember that you are His beloved.
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The Church traditionally extended important feast days like Christmas, Easter and Pentecost for an “octave” (eight days, with the feast itself counting as the first day). This allowed the faithful to focus on the feast for an extended period of time without interruption. The Octave of Pentecost was suppressed in 1969.