(Mary Immaculate Church, Annerley: Sunday 7:30am, 9:00am, & 11:00am)
8 June 2014
(Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Ps 103; 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23)
Today’s Solemnity of Pentecost brings the fifty days of the Easter season to its conclusion and pinnacle. Today’s feast, we say, is the feast of the birth of the Church. The whole mystery of Jesus coming among humankind, the second person of the Blessed Trinity – the Son of God – taking flesh … living among us; coming to his Passion, Death and Resurrection – through which we are saved – all of this reaches its pinnacle today, when the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love which had existed from all eternity between God the Father and God the Son, when that Spirit is sent on the community of Christ’s disciples.
This is what makes the Church different from any other human organization: not just different in its purpose, its activities and its organization, but it was on the Church that God Himself descended and remains: the eternal Spirit of Love. It’s the Holy Spirit, which we have received in Baptism and Confirmation, which is the living force of Christians. It’s the one Spirit of God that makes us the one Body of Christ, the Church. It’s the Holy Spirit which is the living force of the Christian community; the Spirit who has sustained the Church, generation after generation, keeping believers true to Jesus Christ; it’s the Spirit who guides the Church to deeper fidelity at each moment of her history. If the Spirit hadn’t been sent to give birth to the Church, then the followers of Jesus would just be a disparate group of individuals: enthusiasts in a club, bound together only by common ideals and interests.
But instead, we are told that we are the Temples of the Holy Spirit. God Himself, the third person of the Blessed Trinity, has been sent and dwells in our hearts. That living, eternal Spirit of Love in us is what allows us to be the community of the Church.
Something we sometimes say is: isn’t it good that God didn’t make us all the same! What a boring place the world would be if we were all identical! And so it is when we look at all the disciples of Jesus. Saint Paul explains that the Spirit of Love in us inspires different gifts in different people, but all these manifestations of the Spirit are for a good purpose – they all work for the good of the whole body.
When we look at the Saints of the Church, they are the ones who have allowed the Spirit dwelling in them to truly shine forth; they’ve been so open to the guidance of the Spirit that their lives become beautiful with the glory of God. We think of Saint John Paul II, the great evangelist of his times; Blessed Mother Teresa, overflowing with the Spirit who heals and comforts; Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, pioneer of the faith in our own land.
The story of the Saints is what we are called to. We have received the same Spirit as they did in Baptism and Confirmation, and just as the Spirit was given to them for a good purpose, so the Spirit is given to us for a good purpose. Sometimes when we think of the Saints we mistakenly think that for us to be like them we need to go and do something else, be someone else, in some other place. But that’s not right. It’s exactly where God has put each of us that we are called to be saints.
We are called to be so aware that the Spirit is living in us, that the Holy Spirit of Love is able to guide all our actions, so that we literally glow with the fire of God’s love as the Saints did. And we do that in our families, in our marriages, at school, in our workplaces – wherever you “are” right now in your life.
One of the beautiful things is that every Mass is like a new Pentecost … at every Mass we pray that the Holy Spirit will descend and change the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus. And so the Spirit of God is present and active in the celebration of the Blessed Eucharist. And so when we participate in the Mass, and especially when we receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, the Spirit is at work in us: enlivening all the gifts that we received in Baptism and Confirmation; fanning into a strong flame that Spirit we have received. Why would we ever want to stay away from Mass when we realize what God is doing for us and in us!
And so as we offer Mass this morning, and receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, let’s be grateful for the gift of the Spirit which Jesus promised to his followers. May that living force who is God Himself give us life, and all His gifts; may He keep us one in unity, and may He keep us faithful to Jesus all the days of our lives.