Monday, May 16, 2016

Pentecost - a celebration of God's housewarming of our hearts.

The Catholic Church celebrated Pentecost yesterday.  50 days after the Easter event, coinciding with the Jewish feast of weeks or Shavuot, 50 days after the Passover. 

For us Catholics, it is significant in many ways.  It is the end of our liturgical time known as Eastertide, after which we go back into Ordinary Time or Eventide.  It is also known as the birthday of the Church, where we celebrate the fact that it is with the Holy Spirit’s powerful outpouring on the gathered apostles in that locked room, a fearlessness that was hitherto unknown gave them the ability to start the Christian mission and speak the Word with a courage only God could give. 

I preached one homily yesterday, and because I only preach one sermon each Sunday, each time I step on the ambo to proclaim the Word and to preach it, I know that it is probably the only time I get to bring God’s word into the hearts of the people gathered in prayer.  Preachers of repeated sermons/homilies each Sunday can at least have their second or third takes and improve where they believed that they could have done better in their previous deliveries.

Those who heard me preach yesterday would have (hopefully) remembered that I spoke with scriptural references to the fact that at the heart of Pentecost is the celebration not just of the life of the Church, but also of an incredible revelation by Jesus himself – that God, the creator of the universe, has a plan to make a home in each one of us.  He wants to dwell in our hearts. 

And if we don’t take this plan of God seriously enough, we will also easily gloss over the fact that our response to holiness has to incorporate and facilitate this Holy and Divine guest.  He is not just a guest, he is a dweller, and perhaps we have great problems with this.  In our current day understanding, dwellers are hardly welcome, let alone given any chance to set up anything that is close to the borders of our homes. 

In my tiredness after an energized (or at least what I felt was one) celebration of the Sunday Eucharist, I had to take a rest.  I am only now just about emerging from my severe bout of jet lag, and perhaps it was a combination of that and a disturbed conscience that got me waking to a prompting that I could have made the homily that I gave a kicker at the very end.  I do not believe in coincidences, and this is by no means a coincidence.  What came up from my subconscious was a clear bringing up of something that I had used in my past preaching, maybe not about Pentecost, but definitely about our need to give God room in our hearts.  Why it never came up in my thoughts during the lengthy time that I devoted to craft my homily, I will never know.  But what I do know is that it was not of my doing that this memory came back.  I have no possibility of preaching this a second time, so I thought that I could use today’s blog to write the conclusion to what I had originally preached, making this a strange epilogue to something that was already publically concluded, but only accessible to a readership who wasn’t even there to listen to the first preaching. 

This epilogue is largely made up of a quote from a Sr. Magaret Halaska, a Franciscan nun, who wrote a very poignant poem entitled Covenant quite some time back.  I tried looking for more information about the author herself, but there seems to be very little about her.  Could her haunting and significant words of her poem, coming to me so clearly, be a silent prompting for me to pray for her?  I do not for one moment doubt its possibility.  And if it is, could my readers today also say a prayer for Sr Halaska as well?  From the looks of it, it does appear that she has since passed away.  Well, whether you are in the Church Militant (alive on this earth), the Church Suffering (undergoing purification in Purgatory) or Church Triumphant (already in a blessed and eternal existence in heaven), St Halaska, you will be prayed for. 

As a second ending to my homily at yesterday’s Mass, I would have read her short masterpiece.  May these words impact you in your preparations to give God a room in your hearts too.

Covenant – Margaret Halaska

God  knocks at my door
seeking a home for his son.

Rent is cheap, I say.

I don’t want to rent. I want to buy, says God.

I’m not sure I want to sell,
but you might come in to look around.

I think I will, says God

I might let you have a room or two.

I like it, says God. I’ll take the two.

You might decide to give me more some day.

I can wait, says God

I’d like to give you more,
but it’s a bit difficult. I need some space for me.

I know, says God, but I’ll wait. I like what I see.

Hm, maybe I can let you have another room.
I really don’t need it that much.

Thanks, says God, I’ll take it. I like what I see.

I’d like to give you the whole house
but I’m not sure

Think on it, says God. I wouldn’t put you out.
Your house would be mine and my son would live in it.
You’d have more space than you’d ever had before.

I don’t understand at all.

I know, says God, but I can’t tell you about that.
You’ll have to discover it for yourself.
That can only happen if you let me have the whole house.

A bit risky, I say.
Yes, says God, but try me.

I’m not sure—

I’ll let you know.

I can wait, says God. I like what I see.

1 comment:

  1. Dearest Fr Luke,

    I had been reflecting on the the readings of mass these past weeks and somehow the theme of Jesus’ deep longing that “we become one- just as he and the Father are one” John 17:21 seems to be the resounding take away for me…

    On surface, the message is "simple" – we are all called to share in His life and to evangelize and make disciples…being fruitful… however, your post this week made me rethink.

    Personally, I can so relate with Sr. Halaska’s poem subject… counting the cost with God with our human perspective of God... ( that we are doing Him the favour...allowing Him into our lives. )

    Your prompted poem provoked me to go deeper … what does ONE with God means…

    And I remembered this beautiful prayer from Cardinal Newman, a daily prayer of the sisters of Mother Teresa, which we also use in our weekly bible video lessons with Jean Vannier.

    A prayer that struck anew a deep chord for me... the TRUE fruit of being ONE with God... as we invite Him into our lives...

    Dear Jesus,
    Help me to spread your fragrance wherever I go.
    Flood my soul with your spirit and life.
    Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly
    that my life may only be a radiance of yours.
    Shine through me and be so in me
    That every soul I come in contact with
    May feel your presence in my soul.
    Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!

    Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as you shine,
    So to shine as to be a light to others;
    That light, O Jesus, will be all from you; none of it will be mine.
    It will be you, shining on others through me.

    Let me thus praise you in the way which you love best, by shining on those around me.
    Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by example,
    By the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do,
    The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to you.

    The True Fruit is humility, the very essence of God... we become pruned to be one with God in humility and love for others - that's my new takeaway...(am blown away. ;}.)

    Thank You Fr Luke, keeping you & Sr. Halaska in prayers.
    God bless you.