Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Outpouring

(Pentecost, Day, B)

Brothers and sisters, today is the big payoff. Today is the feast of God’s overwhelming generosity. By everything Jesus Christ has done for us in his Incarnation, his teaching, his Passion, his Resurrection from the dead and his Ascension into heaven, today we receive the definitive and surpassing gift of God, the Holy Spirit.

Back at Christmas we celebrated how the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The Word of God was thus born as one of us. The Word became flesh as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus took this divine humanity and accepted for himself the worst evil we inflict upon each other, even to disregard, torture, and death. But because death could not hold onto his divine nature, he emerged anew in the Resurrection, thus creating a path for our humanity from death to life. He took that same humanity and ascended to the Father, and so all of us who are in communion with him are already citizens of heaven.

Today we rejoice in what this means for us. We are Christians, those who are united to God through the humanity of Christ and each of us is called to be “another Christ,” an alter Christus, as the tradition says. Just as the Holy Spirit stretched the dynamic love of the Blessed Trinity into the world by conceiving the Word of God as man, so the Holy Spirit delights to conceive the Presence of God in each of us who is baptized into Christ.

This is the ongoing self-emptying of God. The Incarnation of God continues in us who are other Christs for the world. And the most sublime and beautiful good news is that God in his humility wants to live in each of us in a way that doesn’t displace our humanity. God wills to live in each of us as our love, as our care for the world, as our Christian service to our neighbor. That’s what St. Paul is getting at in the second reading, when he is talking about how the Spirit produces different gifts in different people. Each person is a unique creation of God, and so the Spirit of God made flesh within them will be a unique and unrepeatable grace for the world.

And with these gifts raised up the Spirit within us, we are sent. In the gospel we hear today Jesus empowers us with divine forgiveness. This is the power of the Holy Spirit for the reconciliation—a reconciliation that our world, so plagued by selfishness and greed and violence, needs so desperately. Let us take the gifts that the Spirit has conceived within us, and be about our mission of forgiveness and reconciliation. Amen.

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