You’ve likely heard the joke about how you make holy water, right? How do you make holy water? You take water, and you…boil the hell out of it! But have you heard what you get when you mix holy water and…vodka? A holy…spirit! This day celebrates a different type of holy spirit: God’s sustaining Spirit in our world!
Bottom line: The Holy Spirit creates, heals and sustains. We only have to open our hearts to the fire of his love:
How many of you know this prayer: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love…” What is this fire?
Let’s start at the beginning. Fire creates. Even those with basic modern physics know this. There was a time when the universe was ity-bitty, smaller than an apple. Scientists have a theory that says the cosmos lacking in size it made it up for in temperature: trillions and trillions of degrees. The numbers are beyond imagining – higher even than our national debt! Anyway, from this primitive fire comes the material to make up the galaxies, stars and planets, including our own.
So, fire creates. The Holy Spirit prayer says, “Kindle in us the fire of your love,” and adds, “send forth your Spirit and they shall be created…” The fire of the Holy Spirit creates us.
Addition to creating, fire purifies. Later this summer we have our parish picnic. The Altar Society will grill chicken and sausage. The fire not only gives the meat a delicious taste but also kills harmful bacteria. Fire likewise purifies gold or silver. Just so the Holy Spirit burns away the greed, lust and bitterness that poison our hearts.
Because fire creates and cleanses, we pray, “kindle in us the fire of your love”. Fire also sustains. We hear today how the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles in tongues of fire. Before receiving the Holy Spirit, they were uncertain and fearful. The Holy Spirit gave them courage and directed them.
We need the Holy Spirit to keep going. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes feel blue and discouraged – even paralyzed or frozen. Sometimes rage or guilt will well up and I feel powerless. Like Shakespeare says, “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad.” But you know at precisely that moment something amazing happens, it’s a weird solace. Like that old spiritual, “Sometimes I feel discouraged and feel my work’s in vain but then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.”
It can be something simple like the Holy Spirit reminding me what I have to be grateful for. Or maybe he directs my attention on the other person and his need. It may be something more complicated like when I worry, I have hurt someone by what I said or did. I can’t do anything direct so I pray the spirit would touch that person’s memory. I’ve been amazed at how the Holy Spirit heals memories.
We need the Holy Spirit. We need him so much that Jesus says it is good that he goes away so he can send the Advocate. We live now in the age of the Holy Spirit.
When we began the Easter Season, we heard Jesus say, “Peace be with you…Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit enables a person to believe, that is to trust Jesus. Then take the decisive step of touching his Body. The Holy Spirit is behind what we do. For example, when I extend my hands over the bread and wine, it’s by the Holy Spirit they become the Body and Blood of Jesus.
The Holy Spirit is the life of the Church. In baptism we see water; the reality is the Holy Spirit. So, it is in all sacraments. So, when we take time to pray – the Spirit prays in us. The Holy Spirit creates, heals and sustains. If only we would open our hearts to the fire of his love: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and it will be built, and you shall renew the face of the earth.