TUESDAY OF THE SEVENTH WEEK OF EASTER.
ST PHILIP NERI.P. [MEMORIAL]
HOLY SPIRIT: THE GIFT FOR FINAL PERSEVERANCE.
Acts 20:17-27, Ps 68:10-11, 20-21[R.33a], Accl. John 14-16, Gospel John 17:1-11a
Today, we celebrate the memorial of St Philip Neri popularly known as the “saint of joy.” He was born in Florence, Italy in 1515. St Philip was ordained a priest in 1551. He was a man of culture, charity, and of study. He was known for his sense of organisation, teaching and prayer.
In his farewell speech to the elders in Ephesus, Paul did not hesitate to narrate how much he has suffered for the kingdom, and how much he would still suffer. In this midst of his trials and those yet to come, he talked with a sense of fulfilment. “I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” For Paul, the success of his mission among the Ephesians is hinged on how successfully he passed on the message of the kingdom to the people. Oftentimes we think that a successful mission is a stressless mission. Nothing good comes so easy. We are successful in life to the degree at which we focus on our life goals. That is perfection, staying constantly on the path that leads to our destiny.
Like Paul, St Philip Neri was a man of joy, well-known as the “House of gaiety”. He spent his life for the youths. He was an advocate of the poor and the needy. It was said of a certain man who felt that Philip was a disturbance to him. He slapped his face. Instead of being upset, St Philip put up a smile and said, “That is for me; now give me some money for my boys.”
More so, in his address to his Father, Jesus gave a testimony of his work on earth. “I glorified you on earth having accomplished the work which you gave me to do.” It takes a divine directive to recognise when we are actually doing the perfect will of God on earth. We may be busy doing his permissible will without a thought of his perfect call for us. That is why Paul would say,
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God- what is good and acceptable and perfect. Roman 12:1-2
It is the Holy Spirit, who helps in the renewing of our minds. He is the one who helps us to discern the perfect will of God, without which our trial will quench us. When you know that you are in the right place and doing the right thing, you will be able to face whatever tribulations that come your way. It takes the strength of the Spirit to persevere in the midst of our troubles. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of final perseverance.
“I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Beloved in Christ, let us implore the Holy Spirit to plant our feet in the right direction, that we may be fulfilled and have the strength to face whatever trial we may face. Let us ask him to help us in our choices that we may not sink into a life of regret.
O divine Spirit, unite my spirit with you that I may be strengthen and be filled with grace to face my mission in life. Help me today not to shift from my divine goals as I move about my daily chores. Give me the power to surmount whatever trials that await me. Amen.