All of creation is on fire with God’s presence. St. Francis of Assisi knew this very well. It was his firm conviction in and knowledge of God’s love within that gave him an inexhaustible ability to love his neighbor and respond without hesitation. Loving our neighbor is not meant to be easy. How do you respond?
The mission of the disciples was to proclaim the faith they held within their hearts and to invite others — all others — to join them in building up God’s kingdom. As faithful disciples, we, too, must share our faith through our words and actions.
To meet the challenges of the present, we cannot be stuck in the past. If we are to go out and proclaim the kingdom, we cannot be just maintaining buildings. Like Jesus, we need to be on the move — not just catering to those who come to us but going out to those on the fringes of our society. And, like Jesus, we have to accept that many won’t be willing to make the changes needed to take that long journey. While we want to be sensitive, we cannot let them hold us back.
In our busy lives, we are so distracted when we come to Mass that our spirit, which lies deep within our soul, doesn’t recognize Jesus, not for lack of desire or ability, but for lack of preparation and cultivation. We aren’t satisfied because we forgot that our soul was hungry for the living God. We don’t see the abundance of God’s grace and activity in our lives because we don’t know how to see with spiritual eyes the work of God all around us.
We live in a world bombarded with half-truths informed by our senses. Man’s unquenchable thirst for something beyond himself is written all over every human striving. That is because our thirst is as incomprehensible as the God who made us. To know ourselves, we must seek to know the Triune God.
Breath, life, fire, wind … these are primordial images. God uses them to remind us of something transcendent, not tame. The Holy Spirit at work in our lives goes beyond our compartments and neatly organized Christianity. This Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit wants to stir us up. He wants to hover over our chaos, upend our expectations, and show us a new, transforming joy.
It is common thinking to believe that Christ’s Ascension into heaven somehow removes him from earth and that the Holy Spirit becomes some kind of substitution for his presence here. How then, are we to think of this event we celebrate? If Christ is now fully glorified and ascended into heaven, how can he still be here?
Despite criticism from many fronts, Pope Francis has made this vision of a Church moving “beyond the boundaries” the guiding principle of his ministry and this has certainly been a dominant theme in his papacy. Nothing less is expected of us. In the end, what’s at stake in all of this is the mission of the Church.
How does Jesus make all things new? Jesus tells us that all he has taught can be summed up in one commandment, “Love one another.” The love that Jesus commands is no warm feeling of affection expressing itself in hugs and kisses. Rather, he commands them to love one another as he has loved them — by dying on the cross. Jesus is the only hope of renewal for us individually, for the Church, and for the world.
In a world where we are constantly bombarded with so many voices calling for our attention, we can feel overwhelmed by the myriad of options. Amid this clamor, we don’t always recognize the voice of the Shepherd himself. Yet, that is the one voice that should draw our attention: how does the voice of Jesus sound to you?
How many times have we prayed with 1 John, reading the words, “There is no fear in love.” Apparently not enough! To be freed from fear means to be filled with love. The readings this weekend echo this same truth as we journey through the Easter season. Love trumps all fear, giving the disciples of Christ holy boldness to proclaim his word to the ends of the earth. And that love is personal, inviting, and empowering.
Integrating the Resurrection into our lives means accepting the mercy of God, embracing the unearned gift of it all, and sharing that mercy with others. No matter who we are or what our current circumstances, we have the potential to be bringers of mercy in our daily lives.