Rev. James Murphy reflects on John 14:15-16, 23b-26 at the Feast of Pentecost, June 5, 2022.
The Reformation was a time of terrible upheaval in Europe. Christians were killing Christians. Neighbor turned against neighbor. Kingdom against kingdom.
The wars of religion consumed Europe for generations… nearly 100 years.
It was a time of terrible Human slaughter… done in the name of Jesus.
The Reformers were challenging European Christendom in ways it had never been challenged before… all those reformers were claiming to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
Recall that, before dogma, before doctrine, before institutional discipline came to define the Church, it was the Holy Spirit that inspired and moved Christians to adopt a way of life. There were practices to live…to live through the inspiration of the Spirit.
All this openness to the Spirit changed with the emergence of the Reform.
The Roman authorities, in reaction to the Reform, suppressed any method of prayer that might involve deep listening for and to the movements of the Holy Spirit…The same Holy Spirit whose Presence we celebrate today.
Contemplative prayer – prayer like Centering Prayer – was forbidden. The Spiritual Exercises of the Jesuits were suppressed. The “faithful” were not taught about methods of prayer that would lead them to a deeper experience of God – a deeper experience of The Holy Spirit. The faithful – we – were taught how to think about Jesus, how to believe and obey doctrine.
We were taught to have faith IN Jesus – not how to live the faith OF Jesus.
In effect – the Magisterium took the place of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Roman Catholics. The Holy Spirit would only be known through the teachings and proclamations of the clergy and primarily through the edicts of the bishops and Pope. This state of affairs persisted well into the 20th Century – well into my lifetime. (Recall the Baltimore Catechism – all about providing answers to questions of doctrine)
Thank God that situation is fast fading away.
We now see Jesus – not as the great Pantocrator, the Almighty, All Powerful god who looks down on us lowly humans.
We are living into the Age of the Spirit. This is giving us new eyes to see and new ears to hear. New eyes to see Jesus through our deeper understanding of what it means to be human. Listening to Jesus with a new awareness of how the Holy Spirit moved in the life of Jesus.
We now see Jesus as a man, a human being who is like us in all things. A person – like you and like me. Jesus became Christ for us, because we was fully and completely human. We say again and again that Jesus -God – became fully human, realized his full human potential, that he became fully alive. The operative word – experience, really – here is became.
Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit became aware of his divinity, he grew into his divinity.
Jesus was human – like us.
And here is the good news…the really good news that we celebrate today:
Since the destiny of Jesus was to become divine, then this is also our destiny.
God became human so we might become divine.
This, the Good News we celebrate today: the mystical experience that enlightened Jesus is open to us.
The way to experience reality like Jesus did is open to us – given to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The same Holy Spirit that guided Jesus.
The same Holy Spirit that enlightened Jesus.
The same Holy Spirit that became flesh in Jesus. –
There is not some special Holy Spirit just for Jesus and we get some runner up spirit. Not some Holy Spirit only for the elites of this world. There is one God who is present in Spirit in our hearts and in our midst today.
We open ourselves to this same Holy Spirit today as we gather to celebrate Eucharist.
When we come together as community, and to the extent that we become who we are called to be, we too become alter Christi , another Christ.
Christ for one another, Christ for our world….so we may live together…. in God’s peace.