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Reflection on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on July 5, 2020, by Eileen Custy SL

“The Spirit of God dwells in you!” Powerful words, Transforming words. “The Spirit of God dwells in each of us.” What do those words mean to you? Are they just words or do they really help to see life differently?

Years ago, Sister Maureen McCormack and I lived in Houston together and on Saturday mornings would go downtown to Sacred Heart Church to help prepare children with learning difficulties for their First Communion. One of my students, Beth, was about 9 years old. For weeks we started every session with pictures of animals and asking the question, “What is this?” She would name the animal and I would ask, “Who made this animal?” And she would respond “God.” After a few minutes of that exercise she would be likely to run off to something else that interested her. That was about as far as we ever got so progress was pretty much nonexistent in my estimation. We never even got to the point of talking about Jesus.

I was very wrong. I obviously wasn’t the one in charge of her education. The Spirit of God was at work in Beth. One day at home she was looking at a catechism book that had a picture of a chalice with a host above it. Her mother noticed her and asked, “What is that?” Beth answered simply “Jesus.” That was it. That was all she needed to know.

On the day of her First Communion, Beth was kneeling in the center of the altar rail looking down the line and watching as the priest gave each child Communion. When he got to her, she looked up and said, “Is it my turn?” After receiving the host, she turned from the altar rail with hands pressed together and a huge smile on her face. I had nothing to do with that child’s experience on that day, but I have never forgotten her simple, trusting, loving faith.  “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

The Spirit of God dwells in you. What does that mean to each of us? I think about the people of color struggling for justice. Do they know that the Spirit of God dwells in them? Knowing it doesn’t eliminate the struggle but somehow strengthens the ability to keep going, to have hope, to know that they are not alone.

Think about the refugees and immigrants fleeing from torture, enslavement, rape, murder, starvation or war. Think of those arriving at the border of our country having hoped they would be protected and accepted. When they are turned away or locked up in a detention center, do they know that the Spirit of God dwells in them? Can they possibly imagine God’s love as they endure the suffering their situation puts on them? I suspect many of them are aware that God is with them on their journey and that may be the only thing that inspires them to keep moving, to keep trying,
but what about the others who don’t know? Does our prayer help them? Does our silent walking with them give them hope?

Do the people suffering from COVID-19, dying from COVID-19, know that the Spirit of God dwells in them: Do the nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, EMS workers, and family members know that they are not alone, that God is with them? Is that what gives them the strength to continue?

Perhaps the people most in need of our prayers are those who do nothing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The people who focus on themselves and their personal wishes, comfort and needs to the detriment of those around them are part of the problem. They just don’t seem to understand the seriousness of the situation.

Lest you think the Spirit of God is resting in these difficult times, look at the
thousands of people who are so generous with time and help – who look after their neighbors, who work in food banks, who give generously to those in need, who help others in ways small and big. There are children with their little lemonade stands helping raise money for food banks. There are strangers driving by nursing homes just to greet the residents by waving and blowing their horns. There are choirs gathering in the streets or virtually to entertain people who are isolated with song and there are strangers delivering food to those have no transportation. The list goes on and on all over the world.

In the notes from her talks to the Motherhouse Community last week, Sister Lynn Levo, CSJ, spoke of hope as “the refusal to accept or confirm the closed world of despair.” I can’t think of another time in my lifetime when there has been a greater need for hope and an awareness that the Spirit of God is always with us, helping to fuel hope. As we mature and perhaps grow a little more cynical, it may be difficult to maintain that simple faith and trust in God that Beth had. We may even think of it as inappropriate in an adult. It is easy to be discouraged by the political scene, the defilement of Mother Earth, systemic racism and the pandemic that have all come together in our times. But in today’s Gospel Jesus says, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.” In other words, stop and listen to the Spirit of God at work in you. Simple faith, quiet trust, gentle love will give us and others hope in a troubled world. Rejoice! The Spirit of God dwells in


Eileen Custy SL

Eileen Custy was born and raised on a dairy outside of Denver and attended a one-room schoolhouse for her first eight years. After a year of college at Loretto Heights, she joined the Sisters of Loretto. In spite of the fact that she thought at that time she never wanted to be a teacher, she loved the work and taught for 46 years. Most of those years were spent in El Paso, Texas. Eileen “retired” in 2004 and moved to Kentucky, where she served as an administrative assistant to the Motherhouse Coordinator for nearly 20 years before retiring in November 2023. Eileen continues to serve the Motherhouse Community, particularly pastorally.