Saturday, May 23, 2015

Transformed by the Spirit

Knowing that people are not going to attend both masses, pastors often ignore the fact that there are two sets of readings for Pentecost, one for the vigil and one for the day. Practically speaking it is understandable but the vigil readings are valuable. They provide an image of the world and of humanity before the coming of the Spirit.

St Paul in the eighth chapter of the Letter to the Romans describes all creation groaning (like a woman in labor) and us groaning inwardly, waiting. The object of our waiting is described in two ways

Adoption - the Greek word literally refers to putting someone in the place that belongs to a son or daughter.

The Redmptipn of our bodies (soma) - literally the ransoming from slavery of our physical bodies. This is the most clear suscint biblical statement of our belief in the ressurection of the body.

The part about us becoming children of God is fairly well accepted among Christians. The Redemption of our bodies seems to me to be less accepted and the participation of " all of creation" even less so.

Our third Eucharistic Prayer captures this part of St. Paul beautifully when we pray

by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy,

But how many Christians still walk around with a dualistic notion of the universe where the physical world and our bodies are bad and only the spiritual is good? They talk as if only our souls are saved by Christ and all the rest of the world belongs to Satan.

On the solemnity of Christ the King we do not proclaim Christ as King of a few good spirits and souls but Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe.

On this last day before we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit St. Paul provides us with a beautiful image of an entire universe waiting and groaning for a transformation, a universe that had been ravaged for millennia by sin, waiting in hope for the transforming power of the Spirit.

What parts of each of us are yet to be transformed? The Holy Spirit can completely transform us but because God has given us free will, we must allow it. Too often there are pieces of our old self that we hide away in corners, we cling to. We say we want to be sons and daughters of God but we are not ready to really let go of it all, to allow God to transform us completely.

In these last hours before Pentecost can we dare to open ourselves completely to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.