When Babies Cry in Church

This week's reflection is written by
Rev. Richard R. DeLillio, OSFS.

The crying infant in her dad’s arms may have just found her voice and was testing its volume in church. Her embarrassed father was trying to quell her enthusiasm. Pushing back all attempts, she was ardently enjoying her “new toy” and the new boundary her voice opened for her.

Much in the same way, the Holy Spirit guides us through life refreshing us and providing us with the necessary light to see unseen boundaries as this child saw which help us live and grow. In fact, the Spirit often can fully renew us.

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The prayer of the Holy Spirit uses these words, “Renew the face of the earth,” asking once again to hear the noise, wind, and fire the Spirit used at Pentecost to shake things up! After all, we are the present faces of this earth asking for renewal, are we not?

The Holy Spirit’s task is to energize all within the Body of Christ, refreshing our hearing of Jesus’ message which are His father’ words. In this way will our lives and God’s kingdom where we live now be mended? Without this treasury of God’s goodness, we are powerless.

Every day we live the faith takes firm courage, unwavering trust, and profound love. Living this faith in our world today, we face many crises: addictions and break-ups within our families; endless manifestations of church sexual abuse scandals; dissatisfaction and discontent with all leaders, church and government alike. All these drain us of the hope and joy we need to tackle these challenges.

God sends His Spirit to encourage us with the Spirit’s passion, zeal, and persistence. With the task of affirming God’s promises, namely, that our God is a faithful God and we are always his cherished people, God’s Spirit stands with his people whether the times be hostile or enjoyable.

Animating God’s creation to discover their gifts the Spirit gives us the grace to seek the boundaries where change may be needed, much in the same way the talking child sought her boundary by testing the volume of her voice. Understanding this child, we can more easily delight in her discovery. “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” (1Cor 12:3)

As the Apostles felt the wind and fire of the Spirit on Pentecost and walked fearlessly into public places fervently preaching the message of Jesus converting five thousand listeners, we can find our voices to step more confidently into our present moment and face the challenges we find.

Whether it is facing the hardship of a lost loved one or the sad news of a medical challenge, the Holy Spirit is present and ready “either He will take away our pain or give the strength to withstand it” St. Francis de Sales writes.

The Holy Spirit is our “cheerleader” supporting disciples everywhere to discern their gifts and to share them without any distinctions. The Holy Spirit embraces all races, genders, nationalities, and cultures.

The Holy Spirit knows that true unity for all believers is found in the one Lord, one faith, and one Baptism. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons… and we drink of one Spirit.” It is in this kingdom that a baby testing her voice can find her true home and everyone else seeking God’s gifts can use them for others. In these different ways, the earth finds renewal.