Come Holy Spirit!

May God the Holy Spirit glow within you!

This weekend we celebrate Pentecost which is also the birthday of the Church when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and disciples of Jesus uniting them in one, Spirit, one faith and one Lord.

When we speak about spirit on a personal level, we are usually referring to something about matters of interest or passion in life.  We notice people who are filled with a kind of spirit: a team spirit, a school spirit, a work spirit, and a family spirit.  People of spirit are fired with a special passion, love and energy for particular things.  You can hear it in their voice, see it in their eyes and on their face and it shows in the way they spend their time and money.  Their whole heart is into it.  They get excited about it and they are obviously more animated and energized while they are engaged in what they love.

Understanding spirit at a personal level helps us to better grasp why God gave us the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The presence of the Holy Spirit makes people on fire for Jesus and the Gospel!  The Holy Spirit builds, unifies, animates and sanctifies the Church.  The Holy Spirit is Truth, guiding us in the truth of God!  The Holy Spirit is the breath of God speaking and inspiring action in the members of Christ’s body, the Church.  The Holy Spirit is the gift of enlightenment and sure sign that we are God’s people: God’s adopted sons and daughters.  The gift of  fiery faith that we have from the Spirit is not like the flame of a match that can be blown out by the wind or drowned by water. No, the gift of God the Holy Spirit dwelling within us is an eternal, unquenchable, loving fire that drives us into action and ministries.  The Holy Spirit within us loves to be shared and expressed with other people in prayer and good works.  Its fruits are purity, gentleness, kindness, generosity, joy, peace, hospitality, healing, forgiveness and unity.  The Holy Spirit equips the Church in its mission by filling the members with gifts and inspiring them to action for building up God’s Kingdom.  I hope that all of us will open ourselves more fully to the Holy Spirit this year.  Let us ask the Holy Spirit to ignite us with God’s pure love and passion for life and goodness and share this joy with others! +++ Fr Peter

The Ascension

Peace to all at St. Edward!

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord that we celebrate this weekend completes a full circle of faith for us.  When the Son of God became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, the beginning of the restoration of humanity foretold by the prophets had begun.  We recognize by faith the marriage of human nature with divine nature, the union of mankind with God in the person of Jesus who is fully God AND fully human.  We know that Jesus’ mission was to reconcile mankind with God.  We recognize the love and intimacy in the way God chose to do this—by becoming human.  Because he loves us, God chose to become one with us.  A more astonishing statement is to say that God chose to lift humanity up to share in his own divine life!  The Ascension makes this wondrous assertion in a spectacular way.  God was not satisfied that we should know Jesus as the one who suffered and died to take away our sins: Our Redeemer, Our Rescuer, Our Savior.  This was not enough!  Jesus raised his human body from the tomb of death and showed himself to the disciples as being alive!  He reveals the resurrection to life.  Now Jesus takes his human body to heaven where it is enthroned at the “right hand of the Father”!

Just sit back and contemplate this event.  Let the shock of God’s exaltation of human nature sink in to your heart and mind!  Jesus raised human status from condemnation, to justification! Then more than being justified — above the choirs of angels, cherubim and seraphim, and archangels to enthronement at God’s right hand—above all and one with God!   I hope that everyone can feel a new confidence in the love that God is extending to each person.    Once this invitation is understood and accepted, no one will doubt or stand looking up into the sky.  We will work together diligently to make disciples of all nations, bringing them to the waters of regeneration in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  This is an amazing rebirth and joy!  It is time to pray for the outpouring of the Spirit that we may be builders of the great and eternal kingdom!  God bless you all! +++ Fr. Peter

The Gift Of The Spirit

Peace and Grace to all!

Through the readings and Gospel this weekend we are reminded of the continued and varied action of the Holy Spirit in the early Church after the Resurrection.  Knowing that the same pattern is taking place today, this builds within us an increasing anticipation for the celebration of Pentecost, which is drawing near.  Throughout the Easter Season the surprise manifestations of the Risen Lord and the action of the Holy Spirit in and through the Apostles, disciples and the whole Church community have lifted up our minds and hearts to renewed awareness of Immanuel (God is with us!).  What wonders God is still working among us!  The primary activity of the Spirit is inspiring and moving the disciples of Jesus to proclaim his resurrection from the dead!  In many instances those who hear the message are immediately delivered from sickness and spiritual oppression by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his followers that he would send the Advocate to remain with them.  The Holy Spirit is obviously still present and active among us!  The Spirit continually comes to restore, to strengthen, to confirm, to console and encourage.  The Spirit also brings an enlightenment of truth within each person.  This gift of enlightenment is that by which we discern spirits to see whether they are from God, who is light; or darkness, which is evil.  We walk in awareness of the forces within ourselves and we are watchful of the manifestations around us.  “By their fruits, you shall know them.” Our mission is to proclaim the message in the ways we can in our day to day lives.  This is how the message goes out to the whole world.  May we always be ready to welcome, console and encourage those who come into our midst seeking God: this is our mission in the world and how we manifest God’s presence.

God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter

Joyful Hope

May the joy of Easter lift your heart and mind!

Last weekend was Good Shepherd Sunday and we reflected upon the intimate relationship that existed between the sheep and the shepherd during Jesus’ day in Palestine.  We realized once again the need and dependence that the sheep had on the shepherd for food, protection and well-being.  When we think of Jesus as the shepherd, we tend to visualize him as a shepherd that is always benevolent and attentive to his flock—and rightly so.  This weekend we are given another paradigm that points to a much deeper and fuller intimacy between ourselves and God.  It is much more human in its terms of relationship.  This weekend, in his farewell discourse to his disciples, Jesus speaks in terms of betrothal and the promise of a coming marriage.  Once again, he uses the practices of the Jewish culture of his day to open our hearts and minds that we may attempt to grasp the beauty and power of God’s love for us.  The key to entering into this invitation to intimacy is faith and trust.

As I reflect on the positioning of this set of readings in the context of the Easter Season, I am reminded of my own pilgrimage and the way the calendar of the Church leads us in a cyclical fashion through particular stages toward union with God.  At Easter one of my favorite phrases among the prefaces states  ”the joy of the resurrection renews the whole world.”   When I reflect on this phrase while living in the Easter Season, it seems that we are on the very threshold of eternal life!  But now in these readings we return to a context of farewell.   Jesus is preparing us for the departure of the Easter Season of grace, but we are not to worry or be sorrowful.  Rather, we are to focus in faith and make the daily effort to be ready for the moment he returns to gather each one us personally and intimately to himself.  May God’s promise of love sustain you in everlasting hope! +++ Fr. Peter