“The Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”

Acts 2:4 

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Acts 2:1-11

Many years ago, a wise spiritual director told me: “Pray as you can, not as you can’t”. I am reminded of this as I read, “as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim”. Whether we are talking (as my spiritual director did) about prayer or about wider witnessing to the Risen Christ, this makes a lot of sense.

No one is an expert at everything. (Such a person would be, as a Jesuit friend once put it, a bit like “Jesus on a good day”). Witness, through service and proclamation, needs to be expressed in a manner that plays to one’s strengths.

Just what one’s strengths are, needs to be discerned. This entails thinking carefully, weighing up options – and prayer. The latter is probably better not rooted in asking for certain gifts (like speaking, writing, teaching, doing things) but rather opening oneself to the Spirit and asking for guidance to see just how one is called to act. Above all, to know and embrace strengths and weaknesses and put them to the best possible use.

Sometimes we may even find that what we thought were weaknesses – obstacles to mission – are, in fact, strengths. At the very least, we can clarify what we should, even can, not do. (I for one, as a scientific and mathematical moron, and ultra-squeamish to boot, know that the life of a medical missionary is simply out of the question!)

Then again, we must not paralyse ourselves and our mission by what are called ‘limiting beliefs’, sometimes so limiting that we might consider ourselves useless. Such thinking does not come from the Good Spirit, as Ignatius of Loyola was wont to say.

We must listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Listen closely, think carefully, and seek confirmation.

What is the Spirit enabling me to do?

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. And kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we will be courageous, so that you can renew the face of the earth.


Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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