Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Decisions
One of the tough things in life is making decisions. The more complicated life gets, the more decisions we have to make. And, do we, as disciples of Christ, have access to "insider information" on the big questions? Christ says "Yes"! When those decisions relate to our Christian response, the influence of the Holy Spirit should be sought. All the readings today reflect this.

Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29 - As the early Christian community attracted the interest of those outside the Jewish tradition, a momentous decision had to be made - was it possible for non-Jews to become Christian without following the strict Jewish traditions of circumcision and dietary laws. The first general assembly of the Church held at Jerusalem, inspired by the Holy Spirit, came up with a compromise solution allowing a relaxation of the strict Mosaic law.

Apocalypse 21: 10-23 - Depicts the Church as a continuing partnership between humanity and the Divine. The Holy City is to be made up of people from every background.

Gospel John 14:23-29 - Amongst other last minute instructions before completing His public ministry, Christ explains the role of the Holy Spirit which is not to introduce new revelation, but to unfold an ever new understanding of the once and for all revelation of Christ.

Point 1:  One does not have to look far for examples of decisions that each  has to face - important decisions that can affect one's whole life - what school to choose, what career to pursue, whom to marry or whether to marry, where to live, whether to stay on in a job where, although the money is good, the environment is soul destroying for myself or my family, and so on. The big difficulty in decision-making is that there is always risk involved. We can calculate the odds; we may decide to play it by ear; or we may follow a "hunch" or a feeling about what is the right thing to do. In other words, we draw upon all our natural resources - our instincts, our emotions, our subconscious and our conscious knowledge to tell us what is the best decision.

Point 2: But there is another factor available to the religious thinking person - the influence of the Holy Spirit, our supernatural resource.. Christ assured the Apostles that His physical presence would be replaced by the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. The Paraclete, the Comforter, would make known the full understanding of his revelation. [John 14:26] But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. But how, you ask, do we access this source of divine assurance? Only by Faith! The influence of the Holy Spirit may be felt directly when, after earnest prayer, one comes to a decision that leaves one with a sense of contentment - a feeling that one is doing the right thing. Or again, it may come indirectly through people and opportunities that daily come our way.

Conclusion: Directly or indirectly, prayer is the channel through which this influence is felt. The words of Lord Tennyson come to mind - "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of" ( The Passing of Arthur). It is not being argued that total risk can be avoided in the major decisions of our lives by having recourse to the Holy Spirit for guidance, because the human factor is always present. But, it can be fairly argued that the ultimate risk of decisions in which the influence of the Holy Spirit has been sought must be less than when the case is otherwise.

Scriptural reference: He said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. :[Ezek 2:1-2]