Date: Sunday, June 09, 2019
“Thus says the Lord: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh. Your sons and daughters will shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; even upon servants and handmaids, in those days I will pour out my spirit. And I will work wonders in the heavens and on earth…” I recall these words of the Prophet Joel read by Ted Kennedy at the funeral Mass of his brother Robert Kennedy. “Spirit” in the Bible is divine “breath” that animates Adam and Eve; that inspires prophets to speak the Word of God; that endows Kings with wisdom and warriors with valor.
We cannot see the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God blows where it wills like the wind. But we can see the effects of the Holy Spirit. Looking back 75 years to D Day, June 6, 1944, we remember an armada of ships off the coast of Normandy, France and armies storming the beaches to liberate Europe from Nazi terror and atrocities. Amazingly, the greatest generation who fought and survived came home and chose not to speak of their sacrifice. Soldiers, sailors, flyers, nurses and chaplains kept memories of this epic struggle in their hearts.
The Holy Spirit is given to us to listen. We, priests of the Diocese of Buffalo, gathered in Convocation with our Bishop at Christ The King Seminary June 4-5-6. We listened to John Hurley, President of Canisius College talk about the Movement to Restore Trust. We listened attentively to a victim/survivor speak of being sexually abuse as a child by a priest telling us of the profound harm that it caused and its ongoing lasting effect on the quality of his life and his family. With anger he spoke of the failure of church authorities, once he came forward, to address the situation and remove the priest. Today, he is an advocate, a lawyer. His wife spoke of how he answers calls in the middle of the night from other victim/survivors who need to speak with someone who understands the depth of their pain.
The Holy Spirit is given to us personally and as a community of faith, hope and love in order to remember the teaching of Jesus and to listen to the gentle whispering sound of God calling us to live with greater fidelity, integrity and compassion. There is a young girl who still speaks to us even though she has been dead for 74 years. Her birthday is June 12, 1929. She died at fifteen sometime during the month of March 1945 in a Nazi death camp of typhoid. Before her capture for being a Jew she lived for two years in a “secret annex” in Amsterdam, Holland. Anne Frank still speaks to us. Through the discovery and publication of her diary, her small flame has continued to burn fulfilling her own dream: “I want to go on living after my death.” She wanted to contribute someday to making a better world. “And now I know that first and foremost I shall require courage and cheerfulness.” These are gives of the Holy Spirit! “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart…I can feel the suffering of millions yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right…In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.”