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  • Nico Quintos

The Bushmen tribe, the oldest inhabitants of South Africa, have a deep reverence for the wind. For the Bushmen, the wind is the source of their life. They feel they are living within it and believe in its transformative power. 

They observed that strong winds can wear down rocks and shape landscapes and desert dunes. They noticed that many plants rely on the wind to disperse their seeds to grow and thrive in new areas. They observed how strong winds can uproot trees and clear away dead or decaying matter, making room for new growth. The Bushman Tribe relies on the wind to blow away their footprints upon their death, symbolizing a fresh start and a return to the great wind from which they came. 

On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples like a strong driving wind, breathing new life into their weary souls. Before Pentecost, the disciples were gripped by fear, their hearts heavy with confusion and doubt. But the Holy Spirit, like a powerful gust, swept away their fears and doubts, replacing them with a burning courage and a deep conviction to spread the Gospel. 

In the Gospel, Jesus appears to His disciples after His resurrection and says:

"Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I send you." Then he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

Like the wind, Jesus' breath, the breath of God, the Holy Spirit is invisible yet undeniably felt and present. The Holy Spirit is life-giving, forgiving, and transforming!

The Bushmen Tribe always feels as if they live within the wind. 

How about us? Are we truly living by the Holy Spirit? Do we allow the mighty wind of God to blow through our lives, clearing away our fears, doubts, and selfishness? 

Just as the wind blew away the footprints of the Bushmen, the Holy Spirit can remove traces of sin and despair from our lives, leading us to a transformed, renewed life in Christ. The Holy Spirit heals broken relationships, brings peace in times of turmoil, and gives us the strength to overcome our weaknesses. The Holy Spirit inspires us to love more deeply, to forgive more readily, and to serve others selflessly.

Do we want to know if we are living by the Spirit? How do we know we are breathing the Holy Spirit in?

Saint Paul says that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do we bear these fruits in our lives? Are these qualities what we breathe out to the world around us? 

If the answer is yes, then we live by the Spirit! If the answer is no, we pray: Come, Holy Spirit, breathe on us! Come, fill our hearts!

  • Nico Quintos

D-Day, June 6, 1944, will forever be remembered as the day when the most daring deed for freedom was performed.

208 paratroopers and 11 officers jumped to spearhead the liberation of Europe. These men understood that many of them would die either in the air or upon their landing on the enemy field. They went ahead with faith in their cause, not wanting to die but willing to die for freedom.

Only 69 of the enlisted men and 4 officers survived.

These paratroopers demonstrated in action the meaning of Jesus' words: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." 

These words on sacrificial, self-emptying love are not just a call to action but a foreshadowing of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Jesus does not just command us to love; He shows us how.

Jesus does not ask for simple affection or a conditional willingness to do good only when it suits us. He calls for total love, which involves laying down our lives. 

Laying down one's life in love may sometimes involve actual death. Think of the martyrs throughout history: Saint Peter and Paul, Saint Sebastian, and Joan of Arc. While few of us may be called to martyrdom, laying down one's life in love more often means smaller laying downs of our selfishness for the good of someone else. 

Each day is an opportunity to practice this laying down of life in our families, workplaces, and communities. It might mean sacrificing our time, our comfort, or our preferences for the good of another. It might mean being patient with those who frustrate us, especially when we are not in the mood, forgiving those who hurt us, and extending kindness to those who are difficult to love. It might mean giving up some screen time to call up someone who looks forward to hearing from us, going out of our way to visit the elderly or someone who is sick, or taking the time to write a note of sympathy to someone grieving. 

Yes, laying down one's life in love may sometimes mean real death. Jesus laid down his life on the cross to free us from sin and death, and on D-day, the paratroopers laid down their lives to free Europe. But ordinarily, laying down our lives in love comes in countless small ways in which we put the needs and well-being of others before our own, all in the name of Jesus, who taught us to love one another. NQ

  • Nico Quintos

We encounter the disciples in the aftermath of the resurrection, grappling with disbelief and confusion. Jesus appears among them, and they are frightened, thinking they are seeing a ghost. But Jesus reassures them: "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; it is me. Touch me and see because a ghost does not have flesh and bones. As you can see, I have."

We, too, may sometimes find ourselves tempted to perceive Jesus as a ghost-like presence in our lives, a distant and intangible figure. Sometimes, we struggle to grasp the reality of Jesus' presence among us, especially in times of doubt, fear, or suffering. When the storms of life rage around us, when the path ahead seems dark and uncertain, we cry out, "Where are you, God?" 

Jesus is not a distant, intangible figure from a long time ago. As St. Augustine tells us, God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. God knows our joys and our sorrows, our hopes and our fears, our faith and our doubts. Jesus walked the dusty roads of Galilee, laughed and wept with his friends, and shared in daily life's struggles and triumphs. He shares everything we experience, even death, so we can share everything he experiences, including his bodily resurrection. Death does not have the last word. The Author of life, Jesus himself, has the eternal word.

Like the disciples, may we recognize the risen Christ in our midst. He is not a ghost. He is not a distant intangible figure from a long time ago. 

Jesus is closer to us than we are to ourselves. NQ

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