..as we approach the great feast of Pentecost, our readings anticipate the life energy & passion of the Holy Spirit beginning her [ her ] work among us…three simple steps into relationship in the Spirit.. to welcome the message, then to hear it, & then to see it ..to achieve the opportunity we need to stop & to listen to the silence..in the silence..our prayer in Community at our Little Hour 1pm each day x 365 begins.. “into the silence of our hearts with Father & with Son in answer to our constant prayer O Holy Spirit come..”
“..the people united in welcoming the message.. “ ; Lord have mercy “..they heard of the miracles or saw them for themselves..” ; Christ have mercy “..prayed for the Samaritan [ the outsiders ] to receive the Holy Spirit, in lock out & in lock down.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“I shall ask the Father & he will give you another Advocate to be with you for ever, that Spirit of truth the world can never give..” another Advocate to follow in footsteps of Jesus..a Jesus, now the Risen Christ, aware of his impending Ascension “I will not leave you orphans; in a short time the world will no longer see me” if their struggle to believe in the Resurrection is anything to go by, the disciples are going to struggle with the theology of John; gone are the vivid accounts of the breaking news from Mary Magdalen, the encounter on road to Emmaus, the meal on the beach, & a net full of big fish..& how many fish? 153; not 152 or 154; a religion which tests numeracy rather than welcomes relationship..how many times must I forgive? 7 or 70 x 7?; cock crows 3 times & Peter is asked 3 times “do you love me?” so what of the litmus test, to show rather than to test that love? “anybody who receives my commandments & keeps them will be the one who loves me” love first, obedience second..what a wonderful moment of real theology when so many of us were brought up to understand that obedience, keeping to the rules comes first & then the reward of love..stick & carrot..John reverses the order & grounds it on relationship; love first & then obedience naturally/supernaturally emerges “by this love you have for one another, many will know you are my disciples” he loved the rich young man first, looking steadily lovingly into his eyes first & then, only then, asking for his obedience “go sell all you own, then come follow me” love first, obedience second.. ..another Advocate; comes from latin “advocare” “to call to one’s aid” hence for us to call on the Advocate Jesus refers to, is to call on the Holy Spirit..”Come O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful..” voice it, call on her “Come down O love divine, seek thou this soul of mine” remember the hymn? when was last time you used a hymn as a prayer?.. 7wks ago at Mass?..our are you singing a hymn each day as a family home prayer?..or singing one as you bake or go for your daily walk or cycle?..to sing is to pray twice..”you know him because he is with you, he is in you”..you know the person & the hymn/song about the person, Jesus Christ..you know the words & the tune off by heart.. you know the tune he plays 24 x 7 in your heart & in your daily life, as he playfully lovingly lives, not just “with you” in this valley of milk & honey, our promised land, but “with you“ in person of each & every neighbour, & then, & then “he is in you” he lives in & through you..John’s key message, realised eschatology, the eschaton of last days has come, the promised land, kingdom of heaven, is realised “God-is-with-us” Emmanuel..is he not?..how many times have you seen him in person in this lockdown so far? much depends on how you are relating, coming to terms, with your lockdown..or is rather like our Church; a lock out? who have you locked out, not out of your home, but out of your heart? not necessarily out of some form of reprisal for hurt caused to you in something said or not said, but out of fear of being hurt again..again & again..by what is said to you..what you think is being said to you, what you feel is being said to you; a moment perhaps to risk listening again; to welcome the person in voice, in attitude & in body language, now seen & heard with your divine spectacles on, as the person of Christ himself; realised eschatology, God is with them, God is in them, & to try to love them is to love Christ himself..to “call to one’s aid” the person of Christ, advocate in the person we find most difficult..& you may well find the stone, heart of stone, is rolled away, the prisoner released early with no payroll, no conditions just a full pardon “go your faith has saved you” & through you, saved me..”go in peace”..& leave out/delete final few words early Church always included just in case “go in peace & do not sin again” our spiritual virus doesn’t need partial conditional staged release..it will, be sure, re-emerge, & each time we humbly acknowledge it in faith, it is again & again pardoned..not 70 x 7 but infinitely for infinity.. in these times of an understandable sense of unworthiness we are suffering as a result of the absence of Mass & Communion, spiritual communion helps but it doesn’t sound feel nor taste quite like the real thing; so too, we are for time being, denied the sacrament of Reconciliation, so I would like to suggest, to all of those of you missing the grace of the sacrament, you compile your own home-made, home-baked moment of reconciliation; take 10 mins out in an attic moment in your home or garden, undisturbed; “arrive” settle meet your real self for first time for some time..make the Sign of the Cross; get in touch with what we have just discovered here together, that divine love comes first, obedience/ disobedience second; thank Our Lord for that love which he came to bring from the Father..the best thanks comes not from a prayer book but from your own words from your heart; then, in that loving real presence of Father & Son, remember some moments of disobedience which have particularly disappointed you in recent weeks; avoid the scrupulosity of wanting to tell him everything in detail..he knows it, all of it, in detail already, & loves you all the more for it; remember Julian of Norwich last week speaking of John of Beverley “greater grace than he would have had had he never sinned”; you need to hear yourself voice the worst bits, those instances you’d struggle to share, even, especially, with your closest loved one; voice it in presence of your spiritual best friend, Jesus himself..express your remorse/sorrow, heartfelt even tearfelt, & then the best bit, call down the Holy Spirit the Advocate, to bring to you, at that precious moment, grace love peace & forgiveness, in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit. Speak gently to yourself words of “Come Holy Spirit” or words of “Come down O love divine” [ words of both enclosed with this weeks Outreach ] & then emerge from your lockdown.. I prayed pondered & wrote these words to life, I’d like to think from my heart, last Sat morning, & as I got to the last sentence 3hrs later, our Abbey bell rang out the Angelus; coincidence or the Holy Spirit working among us, within us..you to me first..as in your need, your lockout at present, you call on me to offer some advocacy, some spiritual not legal advice..& as I welcomed message of this gospel..heard it & now you hear what emerged in the silence..I leave you with quote from chapter “the accompaniment of silence”.. ..Shusaku Endo, Japanese philosopher died 1996, explores the silence of God in the face of terrible events [ coronavirus ? ] “behind the depressing silence of the sea, the silence of God; the feeling that while men raise their voices in anguish, God remains with folded arms, silent.” For Endo this silence isn’t absence but presence. It is the silence of accompaniment, of Christ accompanying us along our via dolorosa, suffering with us, as one of us, rather than nihil [ absence ]. What if Endo is right? when stoics, mystics, saints & composers dig deep into this silence searching for what is there, what if they meet something that is also searching for us?” ..indeed not just something searching for us but someone searching for us..for you..& for me through you..bless you as you bless me.. [ 6thSun Easter Yr A Jn 14;15-21 ]