Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Some of the last words of Jesus in the Gospel of John, which we heard on Saturday of last weekend, are:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. I have told you this in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures but I will tell you clearly about the Father. On that day you will ask in my name, and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you, for the Father himself loves you—because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God.”
This “coming to believe” seems to be very important to Jesus in these last moments of his time on earth before he ascends into heaven. In a parallel moment, before he is arrested and crucified, John’s Gospel has Jesus saying similar words:
“May they be one, as you Father and I are one, so that the world may believe that you sent me…”
Clearly, what is to be believed is Established Already. Our growth, the coming to terms with What is Established, is the work of this present age ushered in by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of Jesus upon the earth. It is what you and I are to do now. There is no other job description for us since we are fully initiated into the one body, one spirit in Christ through the sacraments.
We do this by living out our sacramental vocation: loving God and one another, and serving the least of these our brothers and sisters in the Spirit of Christ, the spirit which is poured out already into our hearts.
…we have already received everything God, in his mercy and love, gives through Jesus?
…there is nothing more we need to ask for?
…we were to live our lives as if we have already received the fullness of truth, the totality of grace (Baptism), the real presence of Jesus (Eucharist) and the gifts to be true disciples to carry forward the ministry of the love of God in Jesus (Eucharist)?
In other words, if we really believed that we have received everything already, wouldn’t our lives be lived as expressions of gratitude, as perfect as we were able to express that to God for his goodness to us?
Wouldn’t our prayer go more like this:
God, you have given us everything. Thank you. Help us to discover the depths of your love which you have already placed in our hearts.
So let’s consider a short reflection about Pentecost. In the upper room where all the apostles have gathered in fear, praying and waiting to hear what the next step is, suddenly a noise, a roar. Flashes of light and heat, flames of fire resting upon you and your friends. What is happening to us? you ask. In a moment, a flash, all that you have learned about Jesus the past years (was it just three, or has it been many more?) makes sense, there is an insight that helps you to recognize a divine Love that has continued in a gold thread from the beginning of time to the last person who will live, a love that connects and sustains, a love that touches all hearts. A love that touches your heart. In this moment you recognize that there is nothing more important than this love within you, this life that you have been given—not for yourself, but that you might be a witness to this love. There is nothing more important. You suddenly have the courage to step outside, to begin to share with others, even perfect, beloved strangers, to share the goodness of God. Here, you say, look, at my life and see the love of God. Put your fingers in the holes in my hands, and your hand in my side.
We don’t get just some of the faith at Baptism. We get it all. Nor do we get a little bit of Jesus in Communion—we receive him entirely. And we don’t just get one or even a few of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. We get the whole Person, with his bond of love and mercy, his reconciliation that unites, his presence in us that consecrates all that we meet. If this weren’t true, why would we take all these Sacraments so seriously? They aren’t symbols, or rites of passage, they are the real deal. And we have received it.
I tell you, if we prayed with faith the size of a mustard seed, the Holy Spirit would change our world. We just need to pray in faith, with the conviction that God will fulfill his promises and re-order, and heal the scarred face of our earth.
God bless you