From Be Thou My Breastplate
May the coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head. (Fursa’s Breastplate)
When the Holy Spirit of God wished to speak to the prophet Ezekiel, he said, “Son of man, stand up, I want to talk with you.”
When suddenly perceiving the closeness of God, the natural human tendency is to fall to the ground. On the island of Patmos, John the Beloved fell at the Lord’s feet as though dead, but Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid, John, I want you to write for me.”
On Lake Galilee Simon Peter fell to his knees before Jesus, but the savior said, “Don’t be afraid. I am sending you to catch men for me.”
To Ezekiel God wishes to speak man-to-man, head-to-head. In effect he is saying, “I wish to address you as a man; as a thinking, competent, able, and willing person of understanding. I want to say to you something that you can comprehend and act upon. that is why I will speak to you face-to-face: to your mind and understanding.”
If, in the time of Fursa, a king asked a petitioner to stand it was an expression of acceptance. A conversation could now proceed. When a king stands face-to-face with his subject something significant is happening. It is significant that we pray Fursa’s prayer standing. This was the Hebrew way, the way of Jesus, and the way of the ancient Celtic Christians. So it is that we stand.
If God’s words to Ezekiel, John, and Peter reflect his heart towards humanity from generation to generation, then we must stand ready to have God’s words breathed into our lives. Ezekiel, John, and Peter had a special call to receive God’s revelation and communicate it to others. Though special, that commissioning reflects the call to every Christian. For each of us is called both to learn and to teach. The call of the Apostolic Faith is both to be disciples and to make disciples.
Fursa’s prayer bids me now to ask the father to grant me the same Spirit that he sent to his son as he stood in the waters of the Jordan River. This Spirit who anointed and rested on Christ’s head sent him into the wilderness and anointed him to make disciples of the broken-hearted, the blind, the bound, the grieving, and the wounded.
When I stand alongside Fursa and say, “Let the coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,” I must pray it understanding that, as God answers, I too will be sent. This sending will lead me to carry God’s love to others in the same condition. Confronted by such needs, my prayer will become more urgent. I will repeat this request with greater heart for God to answer me as he answered my brother Fursa, for then my going to others will be anointed with that strength to give help and good news that belongs uniquely to those on whose forehead the Spirit rests.