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Friday, 22 May 2015

Pentecost Sunday (Year B) 2015

                   PENTECOST SUNDAY (B2)   

                              (Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11; Galatians 5:16-25; John 15:26-27; 16:12-15)

Jesus, speaking to His apostles before His Passion, Death, and Resurrection, and wishing to both comfort and strengthen them, said (John 14:16–18):
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, because He remains with you, and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

The Holy Spirit is, indeed, our very own – and in that sense -- secret treasure for:

            The world cannot receive Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.

However, He is ours because He remains with us in Mother Church by the fact of our abiding membership of Mother Church, the Body of Christ; and He is in us by our personal reception of the sacramental Body and Blood of Christ at Holy Mass.

Today  we celebrate His abiding in Mother Church with deep joy and hope as the crowd of pilgrims-cum-converts celebrated with wonder and amazement the first Pentecost when:
Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.  Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.  Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.  At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.  They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?  Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?” They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:2–12)

Our rejoicing is, of course, for different motives today since we do not actually hear Apostles speaking miraculously to people of many nations; but we do hear – with most humble admiration – of so many apparently ordinary Catholics and Christians heroically suffering mockery, loss of homes and property, personal hatred, and public persecution even to death, for the Name of Jesus throughout the world today.  We do, indeed, through their witness recognize the fact that the Spirit is still -- and indeed most manifestly -- in Mother Church today; and we celebrate His abiding presence with fitting pomp and glory, giving expression to the gratitude and praise that fills us all for such a Divine Presence of Power and Truth with us in the Catholic and universal Church of Jesus.

We must, however, on this special day celebrate, quite deliberately, the fact of His being in us personally and individually through Jesus’ timeless and enduring promise I will come to you in Holy Communion; for this personal and most intimate celebration is absolutely necessary for Mother Church herself, since without such ever greater delight in, and commitment to, the Person of Jesus we will not be able to serve and succour her in all her needs in the increasingly deviant, hostile, and sinful world surrounding us today.  He comes to us from the Father indeed -- at Jesus’ request -- but most secretly, because He is the supreme Personal treasure of both Father and Son being the Spirit of their mutual Love; He comes almost unnoticed … on the coat-tails of Jesus so to speak … only to those who have come to believe in, and learned to love and obey, Jesus Whom alone we explicitly welcome in Holy Communion.  At Jesus’ request He comes from the Father with but one supreme purpose expressive of His Mission, He comes as the invisible bond of Love to make us, individually, one with Jesus for the Father.

He, Who alone knows the Father and the Son in the fullness of Truth and Love, comes to form each of us in Jesus for the Father.

Jesus in the course of His Public Ministry once, with both manifest indignation and great courage, cleansed the Jewish Temple for His Father:

He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, money-changers and those who sold doves saying, "Take these out of here, and stop making my Father's house a marketplace." His disciples recalled the words of scripture, "Zeal for your house -- which shall be a house of prayer for all nations -- will consume me."  (cf. John 2:14ss. Mark 11:15ss.)

That same zeal for God’s house, a house of prayer, still consumes Our Blessed Lord; but now, in Holy Communion, He comes:

(As) it says: “(Having) ascended on high and taken prisoners captive; He gives gifts to men.” (cf. Ephesians 4:8)

Yes, and His most sublime Gift is -- with Himself -- His Own Most Holy Spirit of Love and Truth, that He, the Spirit, might in His uniquely Personal way, purify our souls -- already partially prepared by faith and charity -- for the indwelling of Father and  Son:

He who receives Me receives Him Who sent Me.  (John 13:20)

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.   (John 14:23)

At the last Supper, when endeavouring to prepare His Apostles for His Own imminent departure, Jesus said:

I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. (John 16:7)

It is as if He were saying, ‘It is to your advantage that I go, for in your subsequent feelings of abandonment and dereliction, in that state of humble recognition of your own emptiness, and desire for fulfilment in and with Me … I will send you the Holy Spirit, My own Spirit.   In the past it has been I Who have known loneliness and dereliction, for although you were mostly by My side, yet your hearts and minds were at times far from Me; your thoughts were not My thoughts, for your desires and fears were still carnal and selfish.  But when I send you My Spirit He will enlighten your minds, inflame your hearts, strengthen your wills … so that, although you will no longer see Me with the eyes of your body, yet, through the eyes of faith and by the Holy Spirit, you can be truly one with Me in mind and heart; and thus, a great joy -- a joy this world can never take away from you -- will fill your whole being, at the unheard-of experience, in Me, of oneness with the Father Himself.

People of God, Jesus made a deliberate choice of spiritual presence over mere physical proximity; He wanted totally committed disciples and friends, not just helpers to accompany, obey and serve Him (John 17:11, 13, 21.):

And now, Father, I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to You.  Holy Father, keep them in Your name that You have given Me, so that they may be one just as We are.   But now I am coming to You.  I speak this in the world so that they may share My joy completely.  I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

People of God, we should on this wonderful day of celebration and hope, beg the Holy Spirit to come into our lives ever more and more, for He is, indeed, our strength, our joy, and above all -- being the Bond of Love between the Father and His beloved, only-begotten Son -- our new-life love; and all activities and experiences in our life as Christians should be related to His most loving, Personal, purposes.

Yesterday I bought the current issue of the periodical ‘New Scientist’ and on the outside of the front cover I read: ‘The Blip at the start of the universe made everything.  But why did it happen?’

Whoever heard of science answering the question ‘Why?’ ?   Science can, and most remarkably does, answer ever more and more fundamental and arcane questions concerning ‘what happened?’, ‘when, or how, did it happen?’, but science can never answer the question ‘Why, oh! Why did it happen?’, because such a question calls for, requires, implicitly postulates, the decision of a personal intelligence.   Here we can recall again Our Blessed Lord’s words:

The world cannot receive Him (the Spirit), because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.

Ultimate questions, ultimate aspirations are not foreign to us, dear People of God, they are not inscrutably hidden or forbidden to us, because the Spirit -- Jesus’ Spirit of Love-and-Truth -- has been given to Mother Church to cherish and follow and is given to us that we might learn to share in His Love and live by His Truth.

First of all we must learn from the Spirit to love the Person of Jesus most humbly and sincerely, and to walk with reverence, understanding, and perseverance, along the path He traced for us; in so doing we will enable the Spirit to do His most secret, utterly untraceable, work of forming, indeed transforming, us personally, ever more and more in the likeness of Jesus.  By such obedience to and love for Jesus, by such docility to and reverence for the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we will gradually become more aware of the Father Himself in our lives as Jesus promised:

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and
We will come to him and make Our home with him.  

This day is the birthday of Mother Church; it is the day which commemorates and renews the birth of hope in our hearts, of power and purpose in our lives: for the Spirit offers us an eternal destiny of joy and glory as children of God in the Body of Christ, and such a destiny also promises us an unutterably beautiful personal fulfilment in Jesus, by the Spirit, for the Father.