Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Transformation
Our liturgy today sets us thinking of the transformation that occurred in the thinking of the Apostles when Christ, as he had promised, sent to them the Paraclete, the Comforter, to complete the work of instruction and preparation for their mission to make known God'€™s word to all people.

Point 1: After Christ'€™s arrest and crucifixion, the Apostles had broken ranks and fled in disarray. Only John and a small band of women led by Jesus'€™ mother Mary remained to stand by Jesus on the Cross. Later, they regrouped behind closed doors, completely confused and disoriented. The message brought to them by Mary Magdalen that Jesus would meet them again in Galilee had not registered. They struggled to come to terms with the risen Jesus on the several times that He appeared to them, but not without questioning. And just as they were beginning to feel reassured, another crisis hit them - He was to leave them! But, He assured them, He would not leave them orphans. He would send the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, to comfort and to confirm them. Under the influence of the Paraclete, they would come to a more complete understanding of the nature of the Triune God - the Creative power of the Father; the Teaching authority of the Son; and the Motivational power of the Spirit.

Point 2: Throughout the centuries, this power of the Spirit has been represented in many symbolic ways. At various times it is called the breath of God. In Genesis, we read how God breathed the breath of life into creation. [Gen 2:7] then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. In Psalm 104, the Spirit is credited with "giving new life to the earth". When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. At other times, the generating power of the wind is used to symbolise the operation of the Spirit - [Gen 1:1] In the beginning ... the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. When discussing with Nicodemus the need for spiritual rebirth through water and the spirit, Christ used the wind as an example of the working of the Spirit - [John 3:7] Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above. The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." And in the account that we listened to a few minutes ago, reference is made to what sounded like a powerful wind as the Spirit entered the Apostles.

Elsewhere we find the action of God been found in the murmuring of a breeze, the gentle movement of the air that we breathe; and, at other times, we see the action of the Spirit being represented in the form of fire. The basic elements of the universe are said to be earth, air, fire and water. All four have been used to provide powerful images of the person and activities of God'€™s spirit.

Conclusion: But, as always, the "proof of the pudding is in the eating". So it is with the Holy Spirit. All the symbolisms count for little if the fruits and gifts of the Spirit do not become apparent in people'€™s lives. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul described the fruits of the Spirit - [Gal 5:22] By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And when we were confirmed, the seeds of the gifts of the Holy Spirit were sown - Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety and Fear of the Lord. The constant question is - To what extent have they been nurtured?

To day we recall the dramatic transformation of the Apostles when they received the Spirit. That same Spirit is available to us to transform our attitudes and the way we use our God given gifts to bring about a new heart and a new spirit in our efforts to give a Christian response to life'€™s situations.

Scriptural reference: I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, so that they may follow my statutes and keep my ordinances and obey them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God. [Ezek 11:19-20]