The Archdiocese is rebirthing itself. Our parish too is rebirthing itself.
Today, Pentecost Sunday, our Parish birthday. We are called ‘the Parish of the Holy Spirit’. This is not just a moniker, it is a description, it is a commitment. We undertake to be led by the Spirit.
What is the Spirit, who is the Spirit? The Holy Spirit is like the wind, and cannot be defined or confined. The Spirit cannot be controlled, but leads where the Spirit wills, coming seemingly out of nowhere and leading into an amazing future. The Spirit is mysterious, wonderful, personal, close, at the very depth of our being.
In today’s second reading, St Paul lists some of the fruits of the Spirit: “ love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.” At the start of Mass the seven candles were lit to say that we are led and wish increasingly to be infused with wisdom, knowledge and reverence; we wish to manifest the Spirit’s fruits.
I would like to clarify something that might be misleading in St Paul’s letter. He contrasts ‘flesh’ and ‘spirit’. We have to understand what he means. The word ‘flesh’ does not mean ‘body’. For St Paul the word ‘flesh’ refers to whatever is not inspired by the Spirit. Any memories, thoughts, decisions, impulses that are not inspired by the Holy Spirit are classed as ‘flesh’. And the word ‘spirit’ does not refer to the soul. Whatever is led and moved by the Holy Spirit, all our thoughts and actions, our very bodies: these are ‘spirit’.
We could ask our youth, what inspires them, what sets their hearts on fire, what touches them deeply, bringing them peace and joy and kindness. Their answer would indicate where the Spirit is blowing in them, filling their sails and leading them on a wonderful, exciting journey.
Our world is advancing at a fantastic pace. Attitudes are changing and new paths are being discovered. The same is true of our Church. We are underdoing extraordinary developments, led by the Spirit. Pope Francis is, in my opinion, one of the greatest of the Popes. Under his leadership and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he is taking his Church to where it must go.
Today, Pentecost Sunday, we also celebrate the birthday of the Church. The Church is always being born anew; we are always young. Our past is glorious, but our future will be even more glorious and delightful. Then we will come to know who Jesus really is. We are becoming him. As the Gospel says, the Spirit will lead us to all truth, and Jesus is the Truth.
The Archdiocese is rebirthing itself. Our parish too is rebirthing itself. The Archbishop and all of us wish to follow the inspirations of the Spirit. Then we will become truly ‘spirit’, and people will come to drink of the Holy Spirit, here, with us. They will be enlivened by the Spirit and by us who are of one spirit with the Spirit. Then we will deserve our name as the Parish of the Holy Spirit, North Ringwood.