While I was hurrying through a large airport trying to catch what I imagined to be the last flight out, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper to me: “Everything will be okay.” No sooner had I noted the peace in my heart when I heard someone call out to me from a few steps behind, “Sister, are you in a hurry? What time are you boarding?”
I turned around and met the eyes of a woman who was radiant but weary. I walked toward the woman trying to give her my full attention and as much calm and kindness as I could muster. Since Spanish seemed to be her native language, I invited her to speak in the language that was most familiar to her. In bits and pieces, her story spilled out, and before I knew it she was scribbling her husband’s name onto a piece of paper and placing it into my hand as she continued pleading for prayer. I marveled at her faith and love for Our Lord and Our Lady.
She told me how she was educated by Salesian Sisters in her country, how she and her husband lived their Crusillo retreat, how they love Our Lady of Fatima and believe she will help them. I thought about how her story echoes so many who flee their countries with next to nothing and who only ask for work and a future. I felt the Holy Spirit help me to receive her story as a gift to be presented to the Lord in prayer. I still marvel at her humility and faith which compelled her to call out to an unknown Sister, and I still pray for her family. I left her with my community’s phone number, my email, and the assurance that I would be interceding for her.
With that I dashed off to my gate where I noticed my group was yet to be called, and I thanked the Holy Spirit for keeping His promise. Almost immediately after this, a woman who helps people by providing wheelchair assistance settled into a seat near me. She was much like the other woman. She was beautiful but weary. I started the conversation with her by asking her when her shift is over. She smiled saying she would be done in less than forty-five minutes. We rejoiced together at the gift of the end of one more day of work.
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As we continued making small talk, I felt the Spirit ask me to share the rest of my sandwich with her. I had half of a sandwich that was still delicious, but it was destined to become soggy that night in our refrigerator. She looked hungry, but only accepted it after I explained the fate of this great sandwich. As she devoured her little meal, she explained how she hadn’t received enough tips to purchase lunch that day. Our conversation became warm and full of gratitude for all of God’s blessings. She told me she has been working in the country for six years and talked about her three grown children. She worked in Italy for twenty years prior to coming here. She roared with delight as I said a few phrases in Italian while gathering my bag at the last boarding call.
I cannot count how many times people like these two women tell me in one way or another that they are convinced that God will stay far from them because they feel unworthy. But this is just the opposite of what God intends! And the Solemnity of Pentecost proves just this.
God’s ways are so far beyond us, but perhaps it’s better said that God’s ways are so humbling that they baffle us. God loves us so relentlessly that we have trouble recognizing His manner of acting. He pursues us. God lowers Himself. Our Blessed Mother rejoices as she contemplates the Lord’s ways in her Magnificat, “He scatters the proud hearted but lifts up the lowly.”
I love to remind myself that not only does Jesus become a little baby in a poor family, become a controversial preacher, die on the Cross, and rise again, but He also sends the Holy Spirit to be our advocate, our guide. Therefore, we can rejoice with Saint Paul who says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
What do we celebrate when we contemplate Pentecost? Why and how does the Holy Spirit come upon the disciples gathered in the upper room? We celebrate what tradition understands the Church’s first novena. Our Blessed Mother led the disciples in prayer for nine days. And God responds to their prayers by sending the Holy Spirit.
This is why the whole spiritual life grows as a response to our greater and greater confidence in God’s unfailing mercy. Jesus says the Holy Spirit will “teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14: 26) How are we to respond? We are called to respond like Our Lady and with Our Lady. We are called to treasure in our hearts all the things the Lord teaches us and reminds us.
I often wish I could be one of those people who look calm no matter what is happening because I do not want people to feel like they are unimportant or that I am rushing them. This was my little prayer to God as I was rushing through the airport desperate not to sleep in a terminal that night. The Holy Spirit taught me how to trust His voice, and He showed me how God delighted in the faith of a woman who was pleading for prayers. He reminded me of God’s goodness and taught me how to laugh with the woman who was hungry and tired after a long day of pushing wheelchairs in a huge airport. He reminded me of my call to testify to the truth that God’s love has changed everything for me. He encouraged me to make space for God to continue to transform my heart. He is the reason I am wearing a blue piece of cloth on my head running through an airport at ten o’clock at night, and He is in control.
As I boarded the plane, I realized it was rather empty and chuckled at how wound up I can get over little things. I pray to be reminded of the beauty of offering these inconveniences up, and to be better at asking the Lord to reveal His desire when I am in inconvenient situations.
The Holy Spirit only needed a little prayer that night to help me slow down and share a bit of this wild journey of life with two amazingly beautiful women. I am so grateful the Lord draws near to us, and I pray to learn to move according to His good pleasure more and more.
Written by Sister Maria Kim Bui. Find out more about her here.