Saturday, 7 June 2014

Pentecost - Let thy Kingdom come

Gospel John 20:19-23

In the evening of the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.

‘As the Father sent me,
so am I sending you.’
After saying this he breathed on them and said:
‘Receive the Holy Spirit.
For those whose sins you forgive,
they are forgiven;
for those whose sins you retain,
they are retained.’

The feast of Pentecost is most clearly recognised by the reading from Acts - the 'Gospel' of the Holy Spirit - it almost feels that that reading would have been enough; more than enough given the drama of the Holy Spirit's entrance.

It could feel that the Holy Spirit has ushered in a new era of faith - Jesus was always a little too human. Now here is a little of the Old Testament mystery of the Divine. Perhaps there is some rite of succession taking place as another aspect of God is revealed to take on the shepherding of humanity.

The two readings taken together show that this is not true. The Holy Spirit is not a nanny left by an exasperated teacher. It was surely always the intention that there would be a way for Jesus' influence, for the Father's grace, to remain with his followers without his humanity being comprised. 

Even if Jesus had reached his three score and ten there would have always been the risk that faith would not be stronger than death. There had to be another way and, as climactic as the Upper Room is, it doesn't all happen at once - there is the mark of the Trinity.

At the climax of the crucifixion, Jesus gives his Spirit into the Father's keeping. His essence; the part of each and every one of us that is a seed of the Divine having lived and grown in the fullness of his life, is given away in total surrender. This giving is an act of will; the last act of will of the historical Jesus.

Just before this final emptying Jesus uses his last breath to begin the transformation of his followers. He breathes on the few who have accompanied him to the cross. Knowing the 'Yes' of his mother is for all time the passing of his 'children' into her keeping is fulfilled perhaps without no more than a blink of a tear-filled eye. The bequest asks more of the disciple and so of us; to make room in our lives for Mary so that the Mother of God becomes our mother.

The reconciliation of the children to the Father is underway.

This visitation moves the relationship further - his breath is a kiss of life - a whisper of truth - to get past the fear phase they need a catalyst; they need an energy source that is outside themselves - they need Jesus' Spirit.

Jesus gives the disciples and us, the 'one thing' the tipping point for transformation - the forgiveness of sins. The option for Love. Why? Because sin keeps us from Father; it is the cause of our amnesia; our denial. It is not God but our own rejection of who we are that leaves us swineherds instead of racing home as beloved sons and daughters.

Jesus tells us we are in him and he is in the Father - what does that say other than we are already living our eternal life? 

Written on the Father's hand since the beginning; the divine spark of each and every one of us made incarnate by the 'yes' of a woman's body, moulded in the water and clay of Creation. The ending of this life a metamorphosis into a resurrection that we have not yet seen except through our brother's promise. Jesus is the first but not the last. 

The realisation of who Jesus was came to him through the midwifery of the Holy Spirit when She drove Jesus into the heat of the desert for his re-birthing. The disciples are treated more tenderly but the mission is no different. The Will of the Father; let all division cease; let Thy Kingdom come.



Claire Bangasser said...

Thank you, Word. A very powerful post!

Gelli Ma said...

Thank you Claire <3