Sunday, May 20, 2018

Down through the ages, our theologians have told us God is love. Saint Augustine taught that the Holy Spirit is – the bond – of love between the Father and the Son. There is such an immense love within the Father and the Son for each other that it spills over into our lives. A love as sweet as a breath or as passionate and powerful as a windstorm.

Scripture scholars tell us the Bible suggests that the apostles receive the Holy Spirit at two different events. In the Gospel of John, the risen Jesus appears to the apostles and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them and sends them on to continue his work. Breath symbolizes life.  In the creation story in Genesis God breathed over the waters.  He also breathed on to the clay of the ground and formed the first human being. The Hebrew word for the Holy Spirit is Ruach – which is feminine by the way – and it means breath or wind. When Jesus appeared to the disciples, he breathed on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit into them the moment seems peaceful, the Spirit is personal, as personal as your next breath.  Saint Basil once said, "Through the Spirit, we become intimate with God."  And this moment – between Jesus and his apostles – seems intimate and sweet. In that intimate moment with Jesus, the apostles breathed in the sweetness of Jesus’ love.

In the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we hear how at Pentecost they experienced the power of the Spirit as a rushing wind an invisible mighty wind with noticeable miraculous effects. Perhaps these two very different accounts of the Holy Spirit coming give us a hint of how we can expect to experience the Holy Spirit in our lives. Sometimes as gentle as a breath and other times as powerful as the wind. The Holy Spirit is unpredictable. 

Sometimes the Spirit comes to us like a breath, as sweet and gentle as a kiss. In the sacraments we experience the sweet kiss of the Spirit, the breath of God filling us.  Hidden in the waters of our baptism is the invigorating gift of the Spirit – washing us and cleansing us. When we gather at the Lord's table, we experience the Spirit in Eucharist. At the moment of consecration, the priest prays:                                                       
“Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus.”

Like the dewfall, the Spirit gently and lovingly unites us into one Body transforming us into the Body of Christ as we receive the body of Christ.  This is done as we share the sacrament as a community. 

But we must also be ready for the wind and fire, a powerful driving force urging us to do things we never thought possible. On Pentecost, disciples gathered in that room experienced the love of God as a passionate driving force. The Spirit caught everyone by surprise rifling through the upper room like wind – or fire – compelling them to fly out of the exists speaking words they hadn't known five minutes before. The Holy Spirit of Pentecost is unpredictable who sometimes inspires us to do bold things. No one in the upper room in Jerusalem that day expected to speak a new language. Certainly, Peter did not expect to give his unrehearsed sermon, and I'm sure he was surprised when 3,000 people converted. The church was born in that moment of unearthly, unimagined strangeness when the fire and the wind inspired them to do bold things they never dreamed they could do.

Has this ever happened to you? 

Maybe you can remember a time when you said just the right thing to someone, and you didn't know where your words came from.  They came from the Spirit.

There may have been a time when you were inspired to do something bold you never dreamed you would do like move or change vocations. Think back was that the wind or fire of the Holy Spirit calling you to something new?

Perhaps in a time of prayer, or when reading the bible, or in nature, you were overwhelmed with awe or with a sense of peace and understanding. Like a fire burning in your heart. That came from the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in sacrament and inspiration for a purpose.  St. Paul tells us God deploys each of us – to do what He has for us to do – and gives us the gifts to do it. And what He has for us to do might surprise us like it did the apostles that first Pentecost.  And it may be way beyond our competence like it was for them.

Saint Paul said to the Corinthians and us today:
            
“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual, the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”

Today is a good day to ask ourselves:                                                                                                       
                                                               What gifts have I been given? 
                                                               What service am I called to?
                                                               What assignment does God have for me?


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Pentecost

Alone we are only a spark,
But in the spirit we are a fire.
Alone we are only a string,
But in the spirit we are a lyre.
Alone we are only an anthill,
But in the spirit we are a mountain.
Alone we are only a drop,
But in the spirit we are a fountain.
Alone we are only a feather,
But in the spirit we are a wing.
Alone we are only a beggar,
But in the spirit we are a king.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Jesus said to us the most important thing we can do is love our neighbors.  
Holiness does not come from being removed from the world 
but from engaging it.

How are you loving your neighbor?

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter Message - The Mass


This weekend we celebrated the Last Supper on Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil on Saturday the two most beautiful liturgies of the year. Our celebration carries several names, all with significant meaning. 

We call our liturgy Supper, Communion, Eucharist, and Mass.

Calling it a “Supper” reminds us that we eat and drink. It’s “Communion” because our eating and drinking together as a community deepens our fellowship with the Lord Jesus and each other. It’s “Eucharist” (from Greek eucharisto, “give thanks”) because we thank our Father for the gift of his Son, and we eat and drink in gratitude. “Mass,” the word Catholics use for liturgy, is the most mysterious and in some ways the most meaningful. Where does that word come from?

Mass is, apparently, a contraction of the dismissal at the end of the Latin Mass, it comes from the Latin words which are a proclamation - ite, missa est – “Go, you are sent.” The word “Mass” highlights the missional force of the Supper.

The Mass is not an event unto itself, a temporary respite from the world, it is a launching pad for action. In many ways, Mass is our most powerful name for our worship. The word tells us what our gathering is all about. We call our community supper a “Mass” to reminds us of the rhythm of the church’s life: We gather so that we can be dispersed; we eat and drink so that we may be satisfied and sent.

Now we say “Go in peace glorifying God by your life” to end our Mass. These are not just nice words to make us feel good. To literally “go in peace” is an incredible challenge. Because of our baptism as Christians, we are called to be different. We are called to be holy—as Peter said, a people “set apart.” To “go in peace” means much more than to leave with a good feeling. It means that we leave church with the intention of making peace happen in our personal lives and in what happens around us.

We are called to the Lord’s Supper, which prepares us to “go in peace glorifying God by our life.” When we say, “Thanks be to God,” we are thanking God profoundly and joyfully that the Mass is over and that we can leave church with renewed power to make God’s love and peace real in our individual circles of influence. Christ lives and works in and through us, the people of God.

What one thing will you do this week, as a person SENT by God?



Wednesday, March 21, 2018

We all have unique gifts given us to build up the Kingdom - even you!

Mother Teresa said it best:

"I can do something you cannot do; you can do something I cannot do. Together let us do something beautiful for God."

Friday, March 9, 2018

Talking to God ...


All prayer begins with the invitation of God, who invites us to know him in a personal manner. The triune mystery, the energizing presence in all things, is always reaching out to us through the indwelling Spirit.

We think that prayer is our effort to reach out to God. What appears to be our initiative is actually our response to God’s Spirit prompting us to pray. Often we go about the day unaware of God’s gracious presence calling us to new life. When we pray, we wake up to God’s call and loving embrace. This is why St. Paul advises us to, “Pray without ceasing.”

The best way to speak to God in prayer is as one friend to another.  We can thank God for food, our house, our teachers; asking God to bring our family members safely home from work and school, or saying sorry when we hurt each other. These are prayers of thanks, petition, and forgiveness.

Christian tradition teaches that God speaks to us in many ways, especially through Jesus Christ, but many struggle to hear God speak at all. The psalmist warns, “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.” The key word in that sentence is "if." The psalmist thinks the problem is hard hearts, which is no doubt correct, but we also have a hearing problem. Living in a fast-paced, noisy world, we struggle to hear the voice of God. Many Christians do not know how to listen for God’s voice because they do not understand how God speaks. Many conclude, therefore, that God does not talk to us. If we do not expect God to speak to us, we will not listen for God’s voice.  We harden our hearts and close our minds.

How does God speak to us?

One way is through remorse. Sometimes we act against the work and mission of Christ and engage in destructive behavior. When these situations arise, the Holy Spirit works to change our behavior by filling us with remorse. Many Christians assume they only experience God in moments of peace and joy, but Saint Ignatius of Loyola reminds us that God speaks to us in other ways, particularly in experiences of remorse. This is an act of love on God’s part because God desires to free us from our distorted attitudes and actions. God speaks to us through feelings of regret and sorrow over how we act at times.

The Lord also speaks to us in confession. Through the priest’s words, we experience the Lord’s mercy and compassion. After admitting what we have done and agreeing to do our penance. We often feel light, happy and filled with energy. According to St. Ignatius, God encourages the person who seeks reconciliation by restoring the relationship and by filling them with energy, courage, clarity, and inspirations. God also gives spiritual consolation. What is that? The most common form is feelings of quiet and peace and experiences of interior joy that attract us to live like Christ. When we are feeling free from guilt, we have a sense of God filling us with joy. That is an experience of “spiritual consolation,” a result of our cooperation with the Lord.

St. Ignatius believed that all the good we receive in our lives comes from God, like light streaming toward us from the sun. We always need to ask ourselves: “What good things was I given today?”  Most of us would answer family, friends, our home, and food. Do we know what God is saying to us when he gives us such good things? He is telling us how much he loves us and cares for us.

Why doesn’t God speak to me as he spoke to the prophets or the disciples of Jesus?

This is a common question for many Christians, adults as well as children. Our experiences, interpreted in the light of these Ignatian principles, reminds us that the Lord Jesus is always speaking to us through our relationships and choices, through our feelings, desires, imagination, and thoughts. He speaks through creation, through the gift of our lives, through other people and through our own abilities, opportunities, and struggles. The Lord desires to be in a relationship with us, to free and transform us into his image. Our task is to listen and respond.