The Week's Reflection from Fr. Bob Warren: Bring the Power of the Spirit into the World (John 16:12-15)
Bring the Power of the Spirit into the World
It has been a long journey since we entered the season of Lent on Ash Wednesday. We have known the gift of Holy Thursday, the agony of Good Friday, the glorious triumph of Easter Sunday,
the bewilderment of the Ascension. Now, we celebrate the conclusion of
that journey as we enter into a whole new dimension of God's working
with-for-and through His people.
hear the message God chooses to share with us. It is a message so vital
that God pulled out all of the stops to be sure we hear it. Unlike many
of the important events in Christ's life, this one is dramatic,
spectacular. The Son of God came to earth in silence and obscurity, but
the culmination of His time on earth is unlike anything ever before
experienced. Picture the group—huddled together in fear. Then,
suddenly, a great wind filled the room. A tongue of fire appeared over
each person, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit: the same Holy
Spirit who brooded over the waters when God made heaven and earth; the
same Holy Spirit who spoke through the Old Testament prophets; the same
Holy Spirit who overshadowed a young girl and made her the Mother of
God. The same Holy Spirit would descend upon the apostles in tongues of
fire and transform cowards into heroes.
we read today's scripture, the word 'power' comes to mind. The
apostles were given power—that they had never known before. We know
there are all kinds of power. There is political power. The President
can veto a budget bill, pressure other nations to do this or that. There
is economic power. If you think it is love that makes America go
'round, it is not. It is the Dow Jones average, it is Wall Street.
Then there is social power—whether you like it or not, society has an
effect on all of us. What we eat or drink, what we wear, what is 'in',
what is 'out.'
there is perhaps the most powerful—computer power. We can no longer
live without them. They launch people into space, they fly our planes
and fight our wars. Computers tell us our weather and balance our
checkbooks at every bank. So much for power in our world. There is
another kind of power, a power that, in a sense, is out of this
world—the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not just pious talk,
something that I have to say. It is all through the New Testament. It
is because of the Holy Spirit that a young teenage girl became the
mother of the Son of God. The angel told her the Holy Spirit will come
upon you. The power of the most high will overshadow you. And just
before His ascension, Jesus promises His apostles that they will receive
the Holy Spirit.
Paul never stops talking about the Holy Spirit. This is the Spirit
that filled the twelve on the first Pentecost, when they began to speak
in other tongues to devout Jews from every nation under heaven. So it
seems we have the power of the world and the power of the Spirit. The
temptation is to use one and canonize the other. But that would be
wrong. The world and all its power is not God's enemy. How could it be?
God created it and said it was good. Our task is to bring the power of
the Spirit into the world. Our liturgy is not an escape from a Godless
world a private party where the good people huddle together for one
blessed hour of forgetfulness. No, the liturgy sends you back into the
world, and its power, to make a difference so that your thought, words
and deeds somehow reflects the presence of God within you.
readings for Pentecost tell us an important truth that the Church
originated, not with people, but with God. Christ founded it, guides it
and is still its Head. That makes the Church unique, no civic club, no
fraternity, no business, no social clubs, no bank, no government, can
say Jesus Christ is its founder.
Church was so beautifully described in Vatican II, in the words of the
document, the constitution of the Church. It reads, "The joys and the
hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men and women of this age,
especially those who are poor, or in any way afflicted, these too are
the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the Church."
Church is more believable when its love is visible, when the Church is
shaken by every life violated by violence, when it agonizes over hands
without work, stomachs without food, humans beings without human rights,
when it is the Church of the outcast, not a church that casts out
people, when nothing that is human is a stranger to it. That is our task
as members of this Church. We are the Church.
Church is far from perfect. We have made mistakes in the past, and we
will make more in the future. The Church will wax and wane. Cynics will
continue to write her obituary. But the Church is here to stay, for it
is the creation of God who told us, "I will be with you until the end of
As members of the Church we might want to say, "Lord, send out your Spirit to help us renew the face of the Church."