Filled with…

Two super-quick notes on the Bible passages Catholics will hear this Sunday at Mass:

John 10:13 explains a lot (though not all) about what’s wrong with capitalist economies, including why, to reference a problem more floridly described by Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon II, your drive-thru order often isn’t correctly fulfilled. Look it up.

Most of the homilies you’ll hear this weekend are going to be about the Good Shepherd, which is excellent, but don’t sleep on the first reading, Acts 4:8-12. Here’s the question I take from it: would YOU want to be “filled with the Holy Spirit”? I mean, really?

Before you answer (and, sure, the socially acceptable answer is “yes”), consider that while the Holy Spirit plays a pretty big role in Acts, this phraseology – filled by the Holy Spirit – only gets used a few times in the book. Either it describes someone about to be set apart for a life-changing job (Stephen becomes a deacon, Barnabas becomes a missionary, Saul becomes, well, Paul), or someone is about to say something that’s so in-your-face that it causes trouble (Peter here, Stephen as he’s about to be executed by stoning, Paul curses a popular local Cypriot magician with blindness). Jesus uses a variation of this formulation once, at the beginning of Acts, saying “when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me…to the ends of the earth.” (Recall that the Greek for “witness” is where we get the word “martyr” before you get all happy about that.)

So, would you want to be filled by the Holy Spirit, if it meant being thrown from your current life into one that is totally different, in your face, and likely to end with martyrdom?

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