Date: Sunday, May 20, 2018
There was a special gathering in a castle chapel outside London. Invited guests and countless spectators watched and listened to the royal wedding of Harry & Meghan. The homily was given by an Episcopal (Anglican) Bishop Most. Rev. Michael Curry from the USA (with a connection to Buffalo, NY.) He began by quoting Martin Luther King: "When we rediscover the power of redemptive love, we will make of this old world a new world." Near the end he cited a Catholic priest, a Jesuit, scientist, theologian and mystic, Teihard de Chardin. "After harassing the energy of love, for the 2nd time, humanity will have discovered fire."
Today is Pentecost when we commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. After returning to Jerusalem after the Ascension they huddled in the upper room in prayer. Early in Sacred Scripture “spirit” is the “breath” of God. God’s breath infuses the soul. Literally, God’s breath enters the throat and is the life principle of human blood. At times God stirs up the Spirit already in a person or sends a special outpouring to activate gifts of wisdom, courage and strength. God’s Spirit inspires prophets to speak God’s Word. We see this understanding of Spirit in St. Luke’s rendering of Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles. St. Luke describes the phenomenon of in-rushing spirit as a driving wind and tongues of fire. St. John, in his Gospel and letters, will speak of the “Spirit” as an “advocate,” as divine intimacy or indwelling in the believer and as abiding presence within the community of the beloved.
Pentecost is the birth of the church. As Sr. Kathleen Weigand said last weekend, quoting Fr. Richard Rohr: “Our tradition suggests that it is very difficult to live a life of integrity apart from the support, encouragement, witness, challenge and celebration of a community. Community is, if you will, the medium in which so many other important things of the Gospel can happen. Community is an engine for peace, it is fuel for justice. We are made for each other. As a species we have always known we could not survive, could not flourish without each other. Whatever is to prosper, grow, or multiply will only happen with the nourishment of people who are for each other in a significant way.”
God’s “breath” activates gifts in us. The “Spirit” of God enlivens our community and unites us with communities near and far. We are the Body of Christ, temples of the Holy Spirit. Like the newly married royal couple we are called to share our love with others, especially those most in need.