HOMILY OF 30th MAY 1982 - at 11.15
Only a couple of words to comment.
Here Saint Paul says that nobody can say “Jesus is the Lord”, so nobody can’t confess the truth about Jesus if he is not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. This is very clear. Nobody could say in faith “Jesus is the Lord” if he is not under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel says – in particular for the priests - “You receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained”. The problem is not very easy, it’s true, because Saint Paul, as Saint John in his Gospel, they are both two great Apostles; Saint Paul says that nobody can even say that Jesus is the Lord if he is not inspired by the Holy Spirit, so it’s the Holy Spirit that enlightens him. Besides, he even announces that there are a lot of charisma, a variety of charisma, but only one Spirit is responsible for their creation.
Now, as I am a priest, I have received the same words by Our Lord: “You receive the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins you remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins you retain, they are retained”. But Saint Paul adds a kind of prayer, doesn’t he? The prayer is that together with the Church, we think of this variety, of this great number of gifts, here he hints at some of them. The Church prays, at the very beginning, true, we have read it in the same prayer. “ God, spread in the Pentecost mystery, sanctify Your Church in every people and nation and then continue today among the faithful the prodigies You have worked at the beginning of the preaching of the Gospel.” But these are important words, you know! To sum up, the Church prays the Holy Spirit to begin the story of the miracles as it was at the beginning of the Church. Saint Paul and the Gospel announce it here, we have received the Holy Spirit. So, what happens?
It could be a mystery, sure, to some extent, in its depth, its’s a mystery, but beside the mystery there is something explainable. This is what is explainable. Are we relieved from using the Holy Spirit that we have received? We are not relieved from using it, this is clear, otherwise God would have given us something we don’t need. If a young spouse or fiancée received a precious ring, a very beautiful one, with an exceptional diamond, I can’t describe it because I have seen something similar around but I don’t know if they are real or not. Anyway, if she received such a gift and threw it aside “I don’t care”. Excuse me, but you would say: “Either she is crazy or the man who offers it had better not to turn up”. For us the situation is not similar, it’s worse. God doesn’t give us a diamond, a ring; He gives us charisma, the gift of His Spirit that comes inside us. Either He is a liar or we are unable to act.
Now, if we have the courage to say that Our Lord is a liar we say a very great swearword, don’t we? Because if we call anyone a liar it’s offensive, but if we call Our Lord a liar it’s more than offensive, isn’t it? So Our Lord isn’t a liar. Besides, among other things, this kind of gift precedes Him with very wonderful words, that we probably usually use without thinking, “peace be with you”. Peace be with you. But what is peace? Have we received peace? Where’s peace? Where are the expressions of peace? Who tells us about peace? Who lives in our peace and we in his, who?
Mind well that the entire world, us included, is really without peace. If the world is without peace, how can it receive the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit blows where it likes, when it likes it, in the direction it likes and this wisdom of action of the Holy Spirit, is something wonderful, wonderful. Then do we take them seriously or as a pastime, these words I have said? It’s not the case to take them as a pastime, not for me, as far as I am concerned you could take them as a pastime, I’m not the kind of man who is offended because I lack the dignity to be offended. Among all of us, if Our Lord revealed to each of us his own situation, at present, unquestionably, without foolish expressions of useless humility, perhaps I would be the worst. So I can’t leave myself out.
Then let’s not take up such foolish courage to insult God’s Spirit. Peace be with us. Very well. Do we want it? We want it and we achieve it extinguishing whims, feelings, and so on, which more than being a shame are an authentic battle field that Satan, Satan, shall I speak about Satan on Whitsunday? Yet Satan intrudes and he prevents these words of peace from having a great effect. These are really words of peace, and they are not only words, but a cachet, a sacrament which contains peace, thrown with energy from the altar.
Then let us try not to listen to Satan. We all agree that we have some aversions, some prejudices, that we are possessed by a kind of disgust for something which hasn’t been done properly as far as we are concerned or as far as the others are concerned, or even worse, as far as God is concerned. If you were priests I would kneel down to ask you for absolution, because we all need it. But once decided this, once decided seriously to receive God’s peace, we ask for God’s Spirit, with as much seriousness, and I would say with peace, with the possession of God’s peace, with arrogance. We want God’s Spirit, why? Because without Him it’s death. He is the one who created breathing His Spirit. He is the one who withdrawing this breath leaves only death because He is life. He didn’t say : “ I’m the symbol of life. I’m a missionary of life. I’m in charge of life.” But he said : “ I am life.” So life is consubstantial to Him. To say life and to say Jesus, Our Lord, is the same thing.
So, praying Him, remembering Him, saying His name, leaning on the peace He has given us, we receive life in abundance. And life, until further evidence, is only one thing: it’s the Spirit and the Spirit comes from Him who is God, so the Spirit is God.
So have we got it? But, what a coincidence, should we need some gymnastics, some practice with this Spirit as having it we don’t use it? God’s Spirit doesn’t rust, this is clear. It isn’t subject to moths, not even to thieves. Yes, there was, the classical one, it’s true, on the cross, the so called “Good Robber” who said :”Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And the Lord answered: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." That murderer! That murderer is told : “ Today you will be with me in Paradise.” But then God’s Spirit has a terrible action.
I add nothing more because I would abuse your patience, but it’s also for me, believe me, a vent of confidence and of meditation. I need to think of it, you are not the only ones.
Then let’s pray Our Lord because in this solemn day, we even change the colour of the clothes we wear, the chasuble, changing colour from white, the sign of infinite purity, to penitential purple, the sign of the penance to be done, from green, the sign of indelible hope, to red, the sign of His eternal love. So today, even in the external clothes, in the name of His love, we ask Him: “Lord, give us your Spirit in abundance, so that It may work deeply in our poor heart, in our soul thirsty for peace and good.”