Saturday, April 28, 2007

Saturday word, 28 Apr 2007

3Easter Saturday (28 Apr 2007) Ac 9. 31-42; Ps 116; Jn 6. 60-69
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
An Effect Which Makes the Spirit the Spirit

If we never have met a person, but if we have seen how the person is in the world, at least in a sliver of it, we can have a knowledge of who the person is by how the person behaves or acts or by the demeanor of the person.

For example: when I worked at a large city hospital I commuted by bus. I saw other regular commuters already on the bus before me and others who boarded after me. Their demeanors, the manners, even how they composed them-selves gave me insight into them.

Some of those insights were confirmed upon talking with them or meeting them on the lunch hour. Other insights remained speculation. However, watching people over time, has been confirmed often enough to let me feel assured that we do obtain what I call action-knowledge: meeting people by seeing them in action.

The gospel today contains John’s version of Peter’s confession of faith. Did you notice how it differed from the confession shared by the other gospels? In them Peter responded to a question about identity: Jesus had asked: Who do people say I am?

In the Fourth Gospel Jesus asks his apostles, the Twelve, a question about their desired action: Do you also want to leave me? Others were so shocked by Jesus and his claim to be the bread of life, life that people gained by eating his flesh, that Jesus wanted to know if the Twelve were shocked, and wanted to return[] to their former way of life and no longer walk[] with him.

The Twelve observed Jesus; they observed others and their negative reaction to Jesus. Yet, they decided that whatever they felt and thought Peter spoke for them: “Master, to whom shall we go? We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” They let God be God in Jesus.

Something similar can be pointed to in the selection from the Acts of the Apostles. After the violence Saul inflicted against the church, which soon all of it knew, a peace settled over it and it grew with the consolation of the Holy Spirit.

To appreciate the action here, think of the title by which we invoke Holy Spirit in the Divine Praises: Blessed be the Holy Spirit. . . . Yes! the Paraclete.

Paraclete is the Greek word for consolation. The word Jesus used to describe the action of the Spirit was the Consoler. The Paraclete was being itself, and its paraclete-ness, to coin a word, gave the church growth.

To allow God to be God and to allow God’s spirit to be itself and to act one of its ways, giving consolation, both in peace and in violent upheaval is our faithful response. God is greater than we are. To allow God to be God, to be greater than our logic, allows us to abide with Jesus even when Jesus and his promises shock us. We encounter Jesus through the actions his holy Spirit effects in us and in others.

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