Saturday, May 26, 2007

'Lord send out your Spirit'--yes we mean it! (Pentecost homily)

When I meet with 8th-graders, preparing for confirmation,
I quiz them a little.
Well, now it’s your turn, get ready!

Think about the images of the Holy Spirit—
the various symbols or signs associated with the Spirit.

Who thought of the image of the dove?
How about the image of water?
How about Fire?
The image of Wind, or Breath?

Another one is the image or symbol of anointing—
Anointing with oil, anointing with the Spirit.

Well, there are more—but let’s stick with these.

Fire, Water, Wind…

Recall that in the ancient world,
people saw the world made up of four elements:
Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire.
And note: three of those are symbols of the Holy Spirit;
The last one, earth? That is a symbol of us.

Remember how God formed Adam…
from the dust of the earth.
But then, God breathed into Adam the breath of life.
Also, the dust of the earth, without water,
cannot grow anything. There is no life.

So the meaning of Water and Wind
as symbols of the Holy Spirit is that they give Life.

Now, we might think of natural life;
but the Holy Spirit is supernatural life.
Natural life lasts for a time, but ends.
Natural life grows for awhile, gets better and better;
Then peaks and ebbs away.

Not so the Life of the Spirit.
Supernatural life never ends.

There’s another comparison
between natural and supernatural life.

Natural life features its own special joys—
and heartbreak and suffering.
When people we love, die;
When bad things happen to good people;
When we sin, when we are humbled by our faults;
when the trials of life leave their mark on us.

The contrast is not so much that, in the life to come,
we have none of those things.
Because, in a way, we do.

Recall—when our Lord rose from the dead:
Were the wounds he suffered on Calvary gone?
They were not!

He showed his wounds to his disciples.
He still bore his wounds—
But they were no longer wounds of death,
They are wounds that signify life.

When you and I allow the Holy Spirit to govern our lives,
Our wounds, our pains, do not magically disappear,

They remain—but they are transformed,
to be part of his life-giving plan.

Think of how many people have helped us,
when we’re in trouble—
out of their own trials, experience and hope.

And this is a good time to think about the Holy Eucharist.
The ordinary bread and wine that will come to this altar,
represent all the stuff of our ordinary lives,
Including our work, our gifts…
Also our trials and pains…
Also our failures, even our sinfulness.
We give it over to the Lord for him to transform.

Speaking of the Eucharist…
The wheat, has to be crushed…
Then, what do you add to the flour?

And what takes the dough, and makes bread?


In a similar way, we offer our lives to the Lord,
And the Water of Life, the Fire of the Spirit,
Transforms us, into his true Body!

This is what the Holy Spirit does on the altar, at Mass;
And it is what the Holy Spirit
came on Pentecost to do in us!

So that we, made of earth, have life;
Tried by Fire, we become something beautiful.

One more thing.
Recall the psalm we sang; it is a prayer:
“Lord, send out your Spirit,
and renew the face of the earth.”

God doesn’t force his salvation on us.
We can choose to live by the Spirit, or not.

When we asked the Holy Spirit to renew the earth,
that includes, that begins, with us.

Do you mean it?

Are you sure?

Be careful what you ask for!

If you really want the Spirit to renew you, to change you,
to remold and re-make you…

He will do it!

Let’s pray it together:

“Lord, send out your Spirit,
and renew the face of the earth.”


Lynne said...

How long is the background going to be red? (these 52-year-old eyes aren't what they used to be)

Tough (but great) questions!

CourageMan said...

Last week, I went to a church while on vacation and the celebrating priest made a request at the end that everybody wear red.

Izzat normal?

p.s. ... I think this is a too-dark shade of red to work with black text. May want to lighten the background up a bit, or switch the white for the text. Yes ... I have color-coordinating tips ... what of it?

Gregaria said...

This reminds me of the homily for Pentecost I heard last year. The priest kept saying over and over, "I don't want the Holy Spirit to come because..." and then he'd give a reason. The gist of the homily was that he wasn't ready to change, but in his reasons for not wanting to change, he gave us glimpses of what could happen if he did change. It was like being privy to his interior struggle. It was very good.

This is also very good. I love the parts about the Holy Spirit being the Fire, Air and Water for our Earth. I've never thought of it that way, but it makes sense.

God bless and Holy Pentecost to you!

Anonymous said...

great prayer & reflection..thankyou Fr

Anonymous said...

Happy Pentecost! But I think you're burning what is left of my retina with that background ;)