The Creativity of the Holy Spirit
What if Jesus had not ascended into heaven? What if he never left the disciples? These questions offer me an opportunity to reflect on what we will experience at this weekend’s liturgies of the Mass.
If Jesus had not left, he would have been confined to a geographical area with only those who encountered him physically. But by dying and rising, by spending another 40 days reinforcing his teaching, Jesus made it possible for an encounter with him to continue through his followers. Jesus’ words before he ascended were “go…and make disciples of all nations….I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Through the ages, that commission has endured as has the promise of God’s presence and care for us. I call that Providence!
How are we experiencing the presence of Jesus in our parish and in the lives of our families? It is time to imagine what is new about us and how we choose to dream for our parish. Just one year ago, we completed our synodal listening sessions. We listened to stories of how families are experiencing pressures and concerns in their lives. We heard challenges to us of how we might begin to identify with those who are often not included and not given a voice. We heard and learned that not everyone is doing fine. Perhaps we need to ask and listen; we need to be brave and vulnerable in admitting how we are suffering, how we are not doing fine. Perhaps this is the gift of the Spirit that God is awakening in us.
In the mixing and mingling, in the listening and sharing, we might discover new places in the pews and new neighbors. We will thank God for the ways in which we have learned to value what really matters in our lives, and what we can do without. We can sit sharing a common table, at the altar with Father and at the table in our homes.
We share conversations that express our deepest longings—the prayers of the faithful, at church and at home. We answer the call to make disciples, to be disciples trusting that we are not alone.
We see signs all around us. Newness is among us and within us. Like many of the plants on our beautiful grounds, we are in various stages of growth– full bloom, opening and unfurling, and in some cases just buds. Thank God for the recent rains. All are signs of something new—a dream God has for our parish. Together, at church and at home, we discover that dream for us! We need each other. We need God.
“I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Jesus’ promise to his disciples then and to us today! Let us do more than survive! Let us thrive!