17 May 2020
By Father Columba
Acts 8:5-8, 1 Peter 3:15-18, John 14:15-21
A friend of mine, scripture scholar Martin Hogan, tells a delightful story about one of the teachers in his parish. She was teaching the children the Apostles’ Creed line by line. She explained that it was written in Rome in the second century, and that it contained twelve main statements, corresponding to the Twelve Apostles, after which it is named. Her intention was that her twelve pupils would repeat their part at the beginning of class. One particular day, things were going well as planned. One girl said, “He ascended into heaven.” The next student said, “From there, He will come to judge the living and the dead.” That was followed by complete silence. The teacher looked up. A little girl put up her hand and said, “Oh, Eric is the one who believes in the Holy Spirit, but he’s out sick today.” For a lot of us, that is the way of the Holy Spirit. Unknown, and somewhat distant and absent.
Two weeks from now we celebrate Pentecost; yet, sometimes the Holy Spirit is the forgotten person in the Trinity. The great Russian Orthodox patriarch Metropolitan Anthony Bloom recalled a time when he was discussing Christianity with a renowned Japanese writer. The writer told the Archbishop, “Well, I can understand the Father; I had one. I can understand the Son; I am one. But I never understand the significance of the Honorable Bird.”
Jesus in the Gospel is preparing his disciples for His departure, and He promises the Spirit, the Advocate, the Comforter, the Consoler, and the Encourager. He doesn’t want them to be orphans. It is the Spirit who will empower the Disciples to be the same. What a gift it is to comfort, console, and encourage, and how much it is needed right now. It also helps us to do what St. Peter asks in the Second Reading, “Always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you should have
So, what is the reason for our hope? What is the reason to live, and to continue living in a time particularly of great crisis and tragedy like the one we’re living in? I love the prayer pf Father Pedro Arrupe, the great Master General of the Jesuits, “Nothing is more important than finding God. That is, falling in love in an absolute final way. What you are in love with and what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of the bed in the morning, what you will do with your energies, what to do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” Dear brothers and sisters, our reason to get up is our passion for God. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us that passion, and that life. The Spirit will be the reason for the hope that is within us. We need hope, and we need in these days leading up to Pentecost to pray for that gift of the Spirit, the Source of Hope, and the Advocate. Holy Spirit of Pentecost, come. Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.