Let Us Listen to the Spirit Anew
Today is the powerful day of Pentecost. This is the day that Jesus described to the Apostles at his ascension of when they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came down upon them. We can see the power that they receive. The power of God Himself comes upon them and they manifest that power in speaking in foreign languages. That same power came down upon you at your baptism and confirmation.
However, what does it mean?
The Holy Spirit enlightens us and leads us to see things with a growing wisdom. This is by the way why we Catholics believe in Scripture and Tradition. The holy spirit enlightens us not only through the word of God but through a wisdom that grows along with humanity. As Jesus appears at a time when the human race could comprehend him. He ascended and as our understanding grows the Holy Spirit guides those who listen to Him. He empowers us to understand and to live the Gospel in ways that reflect our understanding. This is what our witness is all about. The Holy Spirit allows us to draw upon wisdom from above to understand our world and to act on it in prophetic ways.
This is the whole point of the Holy Spirit who gives us both what Pope John Paul II called the hierarchical gifts and the charismatic gifts to live in the world and to navigate through it so that we live by a wisdom on high as we as humans continue in history.
There is an interesting phrase he also uses: The Holy Spirit leads us out of the range of justice, he explains and into the range of righteousness. What is the difference between the two? It is simple, those who live under justice are those who are wise in their own estimation. They feel no need to have any connection to God because they figure they know the way. Those who go toward righteousness are those who understand they are not capable of figuring out the way on their own so they have to listen to God and follow in his ways.
This is the point of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit bestows on us divine wisdom that leads us down a different path. It is also why I always warn you not to sum up our faith just in morality. In the Acts of the Apostles, you can see a great fight between the Jews and the people who at the time would be called Messianic Jews. Those who followed Jesus and those who followed Moses. However, were not both groups moral people. Did not both groups understand a sense of right and wrong? There may have been different understandings of the finer points but probably both groups understood what is right and what is wrong. So why the dispute? The answer is simple those who are led by the spirit come from a different understanding of who we are and who God is. That is what changes them. As the human race progresses through history, the Holy Spirit guides those who listen to Him to understand His wisdom built upon the wisdom of others. The Holy Spirit guides us as human beings toward the fullness of creation through our choices he inspires.
Remember the prologue of John talks about how we now have in Christ eternal life. Christ is the light that shines into darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. John does not talk about how people suddenly realized they should not speak bad words. Instead, they develop a deep understanding of what it means to be human.
Many people will look at our country today and see the division and complain about the political issues tearing our country apart. They come up with solutions and watch as one group attacks another and the reverse. The truth is the solution cannot be fixed by any political party. Why? Because what is going on is not a political battle but a spiritual one. It is a deep division between those who draw upon the wisdom of God and those who draw upon human wisdom with no connection to the divine. Remember at the bottom of this is a political party that chose to emulate the devil to get what they want.
The Old Testament prophets warned against those who were wise in their own estimation but that is what is going in our country those who are wise in their own estimation are setting policy and making decisions. Before you start a movement against them you can ask how that happened. Because the people who were supposed to be led by the Holy Spirit chose to listen only to those who were wise in their own estimation. They stopped listening to divine wisdom assuming that human wisdom was good enough. That error infected out Church especially in this country from top to bottom.
What is the result? A world where people make rules and laws that leave others wondering how any of this makes any sense. Then they consider it a political battle and suddenly we are off to the races with one political group attacking another and vice versa seeking to build what each group decides is true. However, what we have done is exchange the truth for a lie. We have ditched listening to the Spirit of God for the Spirit of human wisdom and wayward wisdom at that.
This especially applies to the Catholics because unlike the other Christian faiths we believe in the Holy Spirit working through not only scripture but tradition. We believe in a deepening understanding of divine wisdom because our foundation is a deepening of the well of that wisdom. This is where the Holy Spirit guides us to lead us deeper in that wisdom. However, if we do not listen and embrace it for this day then what happens we embrace the lesser wisdom the human wisdom and we get lost.
Today is a powerful day in the Church and it is the celebration of the beginning of a powerful revolution of wisdom on the first Pentecost. We have a choice to continue to be part of that revolution or to listen to those who are wise in their own estimation. If we do that then we are nothing but fools because we had the chance to embrace the greatest wisdom and exchanged it for something with little substance.
Never forget the lesson of the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. He got his symbol of human wisdom which was a degree from a major university but he never learned to root himself in the divine wisdom that enhances all things human. It would build upon that human wisdom to profound levels. How do we know? Remember, the scarecrow never did get a brain. He represents a world that can understand all things human but is not connected also to the divine. It is the Holy Spirit who allows us to make that connection and leads us well beyond our limits as humans.
Let us be open to the power of the Holy Spirit bestowed on us at our Baptism and Confirmation and live it.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. R. And You shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
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