+HE BREATHED ON THEM Pentecost 2021
Our gospel speaks of the fear the disciples had after Christ’s death so that they locked the doors of where they were staying. Jesus comes and stands in their midst and after saying “Peace be with you, he breathed on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”
There are lots of fears in our own society today, fear of the effects and spread of the virus, fear of gun violence, fear of continued global warming, fear of Asian people or of other races than our own, fear of an economic crash, fear of infidelity to Church doctrine and tradition, fear about our own monastic way of life and its future, and so on..
Jesus comes and stands in our midst and says: Peace be with you, breathing his Spirit into our hearts. He empowers us to know what we are to forgive and what we are to retain for the good of our community, for our Church and for the society in which we live. The Spirit of God is ever at work right in the midst of our own daily lives, right in the midst of whatever we undertake if only we have hearts that are open, ears to hear.
Just recently I watched an interview of two women with the superior general of the Jesuit order, Arturo Sosa in view of the 500th anniversary of the conversion of St Ignatius. One of the women says to Sosa: “You have Jesuits who are teachers, doctors, actors, podcasters, everything you can think of. That’s clearly part of the Jesuit charism and the strength of the order. But as the person who’s on top of that, ..how do you manage such a diverse workforce?”
He responded by saying ‘every day I discover something new that Jesuits are doing! Because each Jesuit is a font of creativity. And it is very important to understand that the Society of Jesus is not an organization for ‘doing something.’ It is not a job. No, the Society of Jesus is made of people who want to respond to the call of the Spirit.. As we also learn from the Bible, the Spirit—we don’t know where he’s going to guide us. So what we need is to be very in touch with the Spirit.’”
This is true of each one of our lives as monks, each of us lives our way of life out of a unique context peculiar to each of us. The simplest tasks of our everyday lives are the occasion for the presence and action of the Holy Spirit. Whether getting up in the morning, making our way to and celebrating the Divine Office, eating at table, doing our lectio or whatever work we may be assigned, we are constantly making room for the presence and action of the Holy Spirit. God’s gift of love transforms everything.
There are all kinds of spiritual gifts at work in our community if only we have the eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts open enough to appreciate them. As we are freed from the works of the flesh, the fruits of the Spirit take hold of our lives, those of “joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” as St Paul reminds us. God is forming us into a Holy Temple for everlasting glory. The consecration that takes place at this altar is going on all day long, as often as we allow the Holy Spirit to permeate our lives. So let us be ever more grateful. Amen
(Acts 2:1-11; Gal 5:16-25, 12-13; John 20:19-23)