Who can we be post PAUSE? My hope is that we return, not to who we were in March 2020, but we return to the Church that was alive in the Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles in today’s first reading. The same teachings and structure were there or developing, but the Advocate that Jesus promised ignited them with the power to witness and serve and love.
I wonder if for many years we have tried to be church on our own, without Jesus leading us. The Gospel today reminds us that we are not orphans who are alone in this world. In our baptism and confirmation, we become immersed in an eternal relationship with God. We have never been alone. The early Church knew this. They were less than a generation away from those who knew Jesus, heard him preach, shared meals with him and witnessed his death and resurrection. They met the real Jesus through these men and women who had a deep friendship with Jesus.. The early church continued the relationship; they knew that Jesus was alive and they lived in His Spirit; the divine Spirit of God. They knew that they were not orphans.
I have been praying this week asking myself the question: where has that Spirit gone in my life? Is the Divine Spirit, the Advocate, alive in our communities? For myself, I would say yes, to the degree I allow it and try to control it. Asa community yes, but I do think we need to allow that Spirit to set us ablaze with a love for Jesus that it spills out from the walls of this building into the world. I truly believe that our life needs to be a the return to the model of the apostolic church and to their fearless proclamation of Jesus.
How will know that this will happen? Again I refer back to the the Jesuit writer John Kavanaugh, SJ, who would ask these questions of someone who had left our church for another church or was trying to deepen their relationship with Christ and was wondering if they were on the right path:
“To each person I put the following questions: Does it lead you into deeper union with Christ?
Does it foster a life of greater virtue and service?
Does it increase your faith, hope, and charity?
An honest reflection on these questions will help us see how we need to grow as individuals and communities of faith. The non negotiable will be a radical commitment to the person of Jesus and a living relationship with him. We are not orphans who have to earn God’s love; we are not the slaves of Christ, but his friends empowered to do his work. This is His commandment.
I invite you to an honest reflection of Fr Kavanaugh’s questions; first as an individual and the as the litmus test of whatever faith community you belong to. Even this virtual community that is developing can be have the same fire of the community of Acts; we just need to give our lives over to Jesus.
Let us begin to pray for the grace to open our hearts for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God. May the Advocate recreate us, not in the pre PAUSE church, but into the early community that preached fearlessly and was on fire with Jesus. Jesus, our brother and friend, will do it, if we get out of his way.