When we pray to the Holy Spirit we expect to be comforted, inspired and encouraged. But St. Paul says clearly in today’s reading from Acts that the Spirit led him to other towns and countries, and in these journeys, he frequently was met with rejection, beatings and imprisonment. We forget that the Spirit comforts us when needed and discomforts us when necessary. “I have come not to bring peace but the sword,” Jesus teaches, in a verse that certainly makes us very uncomfortable.
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Peter of Molokai ( 1849-1889), the Hawaiian island that was a refuge for lepers. Yes, they were “refugees” finding in that island a place of security and refuge from societies rooted in Christianity that banished them out of fear. Peter Damien was quite comfortable in his religious community and in his priesthood. The Holy Spirit compelled him to volunteer to go to this dreaded place, knowing that he most likely would contract the disease. The Spirit disturbed his inner peace and led him to Molokai. He proclaimed the gospel not in words but by bandaging wounds and limbs that were rotting…by loving and not fearing these human beings…by being the face, the eyes, the hands, the heart of Christ.
How might the Holy Spirit be making you uncomfortable? Let each of us NOT be afraid to ask this question, and most importantly, to respond in action. This way of divine discomfort always leads to inner peace and new life.
Peace. Fr. Frank