It is a frustrating time to be who we are.
We don’t hear the scriptures like we hear other stories and speeches and wise insights; the scriptures are our own possession, a living word that reveals God to us. In these scriptures we find God’s vision for humanity and what He encourages us to freely choose to be as individuals, as communities, and as humanity itself. And particularly today, in the feast of Pentecost, we see that vision come into greater clarity as we enter into this final age, a new time in salvation history when the Father has been fully revealed to us in the Son, when the Holy Spirit is here to guide and strengthen us, and when we now have the grace to be a chosen people that God has made His own. This weekend there are many options for what particular passages from scripture we would hear proclaimed, and [this evening / last night] there was even the option to do an extended vigil Mass with five readings and four psalms. But the vision throughout all the readings is consistent: God’s holy people being transformed from division and confusion and anger and death… transformed into a people that are unified, that understand one another, that build something greater together by our separate gifts, and that give peace and forgiveness.
Imagine if everyone in our entire country imitated Christ in everything they do and say and think. Imagine what that world would be like. That is God’s vision for humanity.
It is a frustrating time to be who we are because on the broader level of humanity it feels like we are very far from that divine vision. It feels like the world has chosen some other vision to pursue, like nations and companies and cultures are acting in a way that we would never tolerate in a person and with very different priorities and values from how we live our own lives. And that’s the source of the tension and frustration: we can personally strive to become what God has called us to be as individuals – and that’s what our lives of faith revolve around and why we listen to the scriptures and put ourselves in the presence of the Cross in the sacrifice of the Mass – but we are only individuals. As individuals it’s frustrating that we are a drop in an ocean and can only watch the larger world and how broken it is, and honestly, lately it seems to me like it worsens with each event and each day.
It is a frustrating time to be who we are. But not a time without hope. The Holy Spirit put a fire into the hearts of a small group of very simple people, people with no power or authority to change the world. They proclaimed who Christ was to people of every language. They extended their hands over newly baptized disciples and they too received the Spirit. They extended their hands over bread and wine and called down the Spirit to bring the sacrifice of the Cross to those who weren’t there when Christ gave His life. And that same Spirit came into your life at your baptism, was sealed upon you at your Confirmation, and will be called upon these gifts of bread and wine today. Alongside a broken world the Church has grown, has helped to change this world and our history from what it would have otherwise been for over two thousand years. And while our work is so very far from being done we are empowered by the Spirit to be more than individuals. We are the Church.
God’s vision is for you to watch the events of this world and see them as Christ would. For you to think and to respond as Christ would. For you to tell God through the Holy Spirit the brokenness you see and the love that urges you to see it be healed. None of us can change the world, but all of us can hold firmly the light of Christ that scatters the darkness.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.