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Archive for May, 2017

COME HOLY SPIRIT

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

I was privileged to be alive during the time of Vatican II.  I believe it was one of the most exciting times in Catholic Church history.  At the beginning of the Conference the windows were opened as a symbolic gesture to show that we were inviting and welcoming the Holy Spirit to come in and take charge of the Conference and the Church.  In the days and years that followed Vatican II, that happened.

The Holy Spirit wanted more participation at Mass, and there were dramatic changes to bring that about.  The Holy Spirit inspired volumes of new music that was uplifting, joyful, and lively, but also reverent and prayerful.  The words were mostly based on Scripture and the melodies were easily sing-able.  The Holy Spirit wanted the Mass language to be based on true meaning rather than literal translation.  He wanted us to say what we mean and mean what we say.  Mass was no longer a spectator event.  There was a new excitement in the Mass.  It was something we really looked forward to.  The focus was on Jesus, not on ritual and religion.  There was a new zeal and enthusiasm for our Catholic faith.

In 1967 there was a powerful outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  It spread like wildfire through the Catholic Church and other mainline denominations.  There was a new discovery of and intense interest in the Bible.  Countless lives were transformed as Catholics invited Jesus into their hearts and experienced a new personal relationship with him.  The Holy Spirit desired unity in the Body of Christ.  The ecumenical movement grew and flourished.  There were many large gatherings and conferences where Catholics and Protestants joined together in powerful praise and worship.  The Holy Spirit desired community in our parishes.  Many small faith sharing groups developed where parishioners really got to know and love one another.

As we approach Pentecost we need to open the Church windows once again.  We need to invite the Holy Spirit to come in and take charge of our lives and our Church once again.  We need to allow him to take us where he wants us to go.  We need to sincerely pray that he will rekindle in us the fire of his love, his joy, his peace, his mercy, his power, his gifts, his fruits, his zeal and his enthusiasm for our precious faith. You can make this a Novena to the Holy Spirit by praying it every day for nine days beginning this Friday.

The early Church grew and prospered because it was a true Pentecostal Church.  They were filled with and led by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was in charge.  That’s what we need if we are to grow and prosper individually and as the Church today.

 

 

PAUL – AN INSTRUMENT OF GOD

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Today’s first Mass reading is Acts 9:1-20.  It recounts the dramatic story of Paul’s conversion.  Several things struck me in this reading.  First of all, Jesus equates persecution of Christians with persecuting him.  (verse 4)  So Jesus himself is being persecuted in the world today in various places by various people, even here in the U.S.  It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when the President has to sign an executive order prohibiting the persecution of Christians.  It’s basically like issuing an executive order that people have to abide by first amendment of the Constitution.

The second thing that struck me was how sudden and dramatic Paul’s conversion was.  Within a few days Paul went from persecuting Jesus to proclaiming him as the Son of God in the synagogues.  He didn’t hold back.  He didn’t worry about being politically correct.  He knew the truth and he was going to proclaim it no matter what.  We need people like that in the world.  I think the closest example in my lifetime is Billy Graham.

Thirdly, I think the reading helps us to think about our own conversion stories.  We come to the Lord in different ways.  For some people it’s sudden and dramatic.  For others it’s more gradual.  Our testimony should basically answer three questions:  1. What was my life like before I met Jesus?  2.  How did I meet Jesus?  3.  What has my life been like since I met Jesus?  Can you answer those questions?  If so, you have a conversion testimony.  For me there have been two major turning points in my life.  First I was born again on January 29, 1976.  Second, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1983.  My life changed substantially after each of these experiences.

Finally, the reading said that Paul was a chosen instrument or vessel of God to carry the name of Jesus to Gentiles and kings as well as the Jewish people.  I think as Christians we’re all chosen vessels of God.  We’re all called, in some way, to carry the name of Jesus to someone.   God help us to discern what we’re called to do and to have the faith and courage to do it.

SEEING ISN’T BELIEVING

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Today’s Gospel reading was John 6:30-35.  The people want a sign so they can see and believe in Jesus.  In the desert God gave them bread from heaven to eat.  They’re expecting a miracle like that.  But faith cannot be proved.  If we believe only what we can see, it’s not really faith.  Jesus has already given them signs.  They’ve seen his miracles.  They’ve seen his healings.  They’ve seen his multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Yet they still don’t believe.  For those who believe, no sign is required.  For those who don’t believe, no sign is sufficient.  Jesus himself is the greatest sign.  He is the living bread sent by God from heaven to sustain us for all eternity.  And no one who comes to him will be rejected.

A lot of people today know about Jesus but they don’t know him.  They don’t believe in him.  So how do we come to believe in Jesus?  Sunday’s Gospel reading provides an answer.  It was the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35. The disciples saw Jesus, walked with him, and talked with him.  But they didn’t recognize him at first.  They came to recognize him through hearing the word of God and in the breaking of the bread.  We too come to recognize Jesus by hearing the word of God and then in the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist.