Come, Holy Spirit!

05-27-2018Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Our theological belief and concept of the Trinity, or more plainly God, is confusing and distracting to many people. Folks try to think about the meaning of Trinity, but quite quickly, if they are religious and catholic just call it a "mystery." We do say that the Trinity is a mystery, meaning something quite holy and beyond total comprehension and understanding, but this "mystery" is really an important part of our lives. Clearly the idea of trinity delves into the world of relationships, which we all know are often hard to understand, frequently confusing or frustrating and many times just plain old bewildering. Indeed understanding God is often the same! Today's Feast and its scripture helps us to celebrate that unique holy relationship, that mysterious relationship, and invites us to join in.

In our Old Testament reading, Moses challenges the Israelites to judge whether any other people has been as blessed as they. The great prophet lists the many benefits bestowed upon them and then urges the people to acknowledge these wondrous gifts by accepting and following God's commands. Moses' retelling of God's gracious deeds informs again the people that God has loved - and loves - them in the real and practical. Moses also is quick to point out God's initiative in and also great desire for an encounter with the people by means of an alliance and union with them. Accepting God's precepts is equal to accepting God and to becoming God's own.

Our New Testament letter by Paul reminds us that if we allow ourselves to be "led" by the Spirit, we are indeed God's children and receivers of the promises made by Christ. To achieve this, we need, after all, only give the Spirit room in us. The Gospel shows us that our Triune God is obsessed with the task of bringing all peoples, that is all "nations," into the unity of discipleship. In fact Jesus' command to baptize is a command to unify, an invitation to all people to belong to and to exist in one life-sustaining relationship that is God.

God lives in - God is - God has to be - relationship. Why? Because only a relational God can be a God of love, a God who unites and gives peace. Bear in mind that we are made in God's image, made to be relational and to live lives of relationship. We are given the ability to do both by Jesus, who, in his sending of the Spirit, granted us the ability to become related to God, to call God "Father." Because we are pointed towards relationship, we are also driven to be liked. Often times, however, we are not capable of these relationships. Too often, we are willing to pay too high a price to be liked. Too often our deep desire to be liked is driven by the engine of fear. What results, then, is not relationship and unity, but estrangement and division.

Sadly it is true that instead of easily empathizing with outsiders and effortlessly opening ourselves to relationship with God, we often try to guarantee our belonging or relationship with God and people by keeping others out. We use labels and petty descriptions and name calling such as liberal," "conservative," "true believer," "heretic." We equate our ideas and ideals, our beliefs and morals, with the faith and its practice. We replace God with ourselves. As a result, we create division and hurt, not unity and peace. We must change our ways and take heed of the call for unity and his authority to bring it about. It is a refusal to allow ourselves to be "led" by the Spirit. And it is a refusal to recognize that we are all children of the same Father. "Come, Holy Spirit, and fill the hearts of the faithful!"