The Spirit and the Church

archdiocese_symbolSet a stone on the ground. Place another stone on top of it. And then another. And another. And another. You might be able to pile up enough stones to form a great cathedral. But all you really have is a pile of stones. The cathedral is formed only when the stones are held together by mortar. Soft and wet when applied, barely seen when it dries, mortar provides the strength that transforms a pile of stones into an architectural marvel.

It begins with scraps of cloth, material of different patterns, colors and textures. But with simple thread, barely visible to the eye, those pieces of cloth scraps become a beautiful blanket.

It is no more than a tube made out of wood or metal with a few holes drilled at strategic points along the shaft. And that’s all it is. A stick, really – until the player breathes into it. Then the reed becomes a flute or recorder or clarinet. The whistles become a melody. The player’s breath becomes a song.

This coming Sunday the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Pentecost. It was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit transformed fearful apostles into courageous witnesses to Christ. They lost their fear of what might happen, who might criticize or object to their message. They lost their horror of mobs that arrest, trails that are rigged, and enemies that kill. These were people so filled with God’s Spirit that they had to do just what God does – speak life into the world! So they started talking and basically proclaimed that word till the end of their lives, to their own executions, to the grave. But they left behind a Church that could shoulder the burden of that message to the ends of the earth and the end of time.

It is the Spirit of God – invisible, almost undefinable, but very real, that makes you and I the people of God, the Church, the disciples of the Gospel of Jesus, witnesses of the good news of the empty tomb.

Like the strong but barely visible mortar, the Spirit is the great love that binds the Father to the Son and now binds us to God and to one another.

Like the invisible thread in the quilt, the Spirit ties us together as the Church, making of us not just a clan or a club, but a community of faith.

Like the air that flows through the reed to make music, the Spirit of God is the breath or ruah of God flowing with us, animating us to continue the work of the Risen One.

As we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost the Church’s celebration of the Easter Season comes to a conclusion. But, the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, given to the Church, that’s you and me, empower us with the courage needed to announce the mighty acts of God to the world by the very witness of our lives.

I invite you to join me in praying the following prayer, attributed to Saint Augustine, daily between now and Pentecost:

‘Breathe in me O Holy Spirit that my thoughts may all be holy; Act in me O Holy Spirit that my works, too, may be holy; Draw my heart O Holy Spirit that I love but what is holy; Strengthen me O Holy Spirit to defend that is holy; Guard me then O Holy Spirit that I always may be holy.’

Question – In what concrete ways does the Holy Spirit enliven or re-create you?

May 11th, 2016 |