Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Recreated To Transform our World
One may briefly--and faithfully--describe scripture as recounting in various ways God’s relationship with humans. God began the relationship; humans rebuffed God over and over; yet God never ceased to welcome humans into relation-ship with God, God’s reason for creating us.
St. Ignatius of Loyola equated our creation with the divine purpose and goodwill toward us:
Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this save their souls.Those of us who grew up long after St. Ignatius but before the Second Vatican Council recognize the saint’s expression in the response we learned to the question, “Why did God make me?”
The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the [goal] for which they are created./1/
God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven./2/All created things are gifts of God to help us better to know, love and serve God now and enjoy divine life for ever. Creation is a constellation of created gifts to help us live godly lives, our most important reason to care for it.
Above all created gifts is one gift without par, divine life. God’s life is so rich, so powerful, so vital that we celebrate it as a Person of the Trinity. Pentecost celebrates Holy Spirit as the gift of gifts, “the Lord, the giver of Life,” as we profess in the Nicene Creed.
Like ordinary gifts the divine gift of Holy Spirit is unearned. The graciousness of God is something we humans from our beginnings have been slow to appreciate. Not far along in scripture’s account of human development the Tower of Babel vividly described human striving and our stubborn wills to achieve soaring heights and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth./3/ We know their striving made names for them quite different from what they desired: scattered and confused.
Pentecost reminds us that God in Jesus by their Spirit ends the confusion and unites peoples by the bond of Holy Spirit, more powerful and vital than blood-ties. The condition, the posture of disciples were drastically different from ambitious striving. Jesus had told them to go Jerusalem and “stay in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.”/4/ We tend to overlook the disciples’ posture of attentive waiting, no doubt because waiting is not comfortable and our society shapes us to gratify ourselves at once. We prefer to marvel at the driving wind and the tongues as of fire. The disciples’ posture of waiting dramatically reminds us that we cannot coerce the Uncreated Gift, who is freely given to us for the sake of the world. As God breathed life into the first humans at the dawn of creation, Jesus breathes new life into all his disciples with the commission that we proclaim his peace with our lives.
Pentecost completes the Easter season by summarizing the awe, the doubt, the presence--both mysterious yet concrete--of the numerous exchanges risen Jesus had with his disciples. Pentecost celebrates the completion of what God began with us, of what Jesus accomplished for us, of what their Holy Spirit continues in us and, miraculously, through us, who are not always aware or even welcoming of God’s living activity within us.
In your 15 minutes with Jesus this week, allow yourself to feel and savor the light and loving warmth of the Trinity, creating you each moment. Ask the disciples and Mary to present you to Jesus. Praise him for rising from the dead for you, and ask him for a share in his joy. Consider with Jesus how you have experienced his Spirit in the last 24 hours, and resolve to be more attentive, and more open to the ways Holy Spirit prompts you to live as Jesus’ friend and coworker. Close by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which teaches us both how to wait for the Lord to give; and to live as a person recreated by the Lord’s forgiving Spirit.
/1/ Spiritual Exercises, 22.
/2/ Baltimore Catechism, Part 1, Q&A 6.
/3/ Genesis 11.4.
/4/ Luke 24.49.
Wiki-image of ElGreco's Pentecost is in the public domain.