Myrtle Howell, 76, Was in a Retirement Home and Couldn’t Go to Church ...
By Father John Slampak, STL

 A rabbi and his congregation could not agree on anything. He thought, “This can’t continue. I’ll call a conference and we’ll settle the differences.”

The rabbi, the president of the congregation, and 10 elders met around a magnificent mahogany table. One by one, the issues were presented and on each issue it became more apparent that the rabbi was a lonely voice in the wilderness, somewhat like Moses.

The president called a vote which would allow the majority vote to be the decision. They were all given slips of paper that they marked and handed in to be examined and counted. It came out 11 to one, the rabbi was clearly in the minority.

The rabbi rose and said, “So you now think that because of the vote you are right and I am wrong.

Well, that is not so. I stand here and call upon the Holy One of Israel to give us a sign that I am right and you are wrong.”

With those words, there was a tremendous crack of thunder followed by a brilliant flash which struck the mahogany table and cracked it in two. The room filled with smoke and fumes and the president and elders were thrown to the floor.

But, throughout the whole thing, the rabbi stood erect, untouched.

The president lifted himself on what was left of the table, his hair singed, his glasses hanging from one ear, his clothing in disarray and said, “All right, 11 to two, but we still have the majority”

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you, stopped to catch your breath, held your breath or been left breathless at seeing something? Pentecost is about life and breath.

According to the sacred Scriptures, only human beings share the very life of God, the very breath of God.

Jesus now appears to his disciples who are frightened, who have had the wind knocked out of them by the death of Jesus. They locked the doors of the place to catch their breath. Jesus breathes on them.

He blew into their hearts and minds and souls the very breath of God, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

We are the ones breathed upon today. The ones who are stopping to catch our breath, the breath of God’s own life.

Perhaps you may have lost the breath of God through some sin, through not forgiving, through an illness, through the misuse of your body in the addictive ways of drugs or drinking or sexual actions.

Pentecost has two aspects to it. First, it is an in-filling of God’s Spirit, the experiencing of divine power; and, second, it is an expression of the Spirit through performing the works of God.

St. Paul says that there are many kinds of gifts and services one can do. They are all for the common good.

To activate the Holy Spirit of God in the world, in your life, you have to do all the good you can; in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can.

Myrtle Howell wanted to express her faith in some way. She saw an ad about “Prison Fellowship” where you write to a prisoner. So, she first wrote to the warden, “My name is Grandma Howell. I’ve never married and have no children or grandchildren but maybe there is a young man in your prison who would like to adopt a grandma. If there is such a man, I could write to him every week, pray for him, send him my picture and even send some brownies from time to time.”

Almost every prisoner signed up!

She was surprised as they wrote, “Dear Grandma Howell ... nana ... gram: give me some guidance for my life. Please write to me .... please love me. I’ve done some terrible things, grandma, can I be forgiven?

She did this from the age of 76 to 91.