A SPIRIT FULL OF SURPRISES


While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, ‘Can any one forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” (Acts 10: 44-48)

Those who came with Peter were not a little surprised, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out “even on the Gentiles.” But the surprising part for our Orthodox mentality today, I think, both in terms of our ecclesiological and sacramental Tradition, is that these Gentiles were “not even baptized.”

So I’m reminded this morning, upon reading the above-quoted passage, of the simple fact that the Holy Spirit “blows where He will” (Jn 3: 8). Our canonical and sacramental boundaries and regulations have their important place, for us, but let me make no mistake: They do not fetter or limit the freedom of the Spirit of God. “Even” the not-baptized can and do receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, when He wills it so, and they can and do, when He wills it so, both speak and extol God, in His Spirit. Let me be willing, today, to listen for God’s voice, even when it comes from surprising, untraditional places.

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