Acts 16:22-34; Psalm 138:1-3, 7-8;
Saints Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs
It is better for you that I go. (John 16:7)
Let’s face it. The inclination to think “if only” arises more often than we like to admit. If only I could get the next best thing! A newer or more powerful or more economical car. The latest model phone. A hot or free or gourmet meal.
It’s tempting to think “if only” about our faith, too. If only I could have had three years of daily contact with Jesus as the disciples did! If only he were here right now, I would be a better Catholic, evangelist, father, mother, student, co-worker …
But that’s not what Jesus said. Even though it grieved his disciples, he insisted, “It is better for you that I go” (John 16:7). They couldn’t imagine anything better than Jesus walking with them, teaching them, healing them, and declaring the good news of the kingdom. But Jesus knew that his departure was better than his presence. Why? Because having returned to the Father, he would send the Spirit: the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, to dwell in their hearts.
It’s hard to imagine that Jesus’ absence is better than his presence, isn’t it? But now, the Holy Spirit is present—and in the deepest part of your being. Yes, it would be exciting to watch Jesus perform awesome miracles or to hear him put the Pharisees in their place. But there’s a difference between being excited and being changed. Only by speaking deeply to our consciences can the Spirit move us to repentance. Only by taking Jesus’ words and writing them on our hearts can the Spirit fill us with consolation, peace, and joy. Only by pouring God’s love into us can the Spirit soften our hearts and move us to treat each other with mercy and compassion.
So the next time you find yourself thinking “if only,” remind yourself that you already have the “next best thing.” In fact, you have the best thing ever! You have almighty God living in you. He is there to guide you, to offer his wisdom, and, best of all, to fill you with his life and love!
“Jesus, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit. Help me to sense the Spirit’s presence today. Open my ears to hear his voice and my heart to follow his leading.”~wau