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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Messiness and the Paraclete

Life is very messy at times.  Today’s first reading remind us of this truth.  As the earliest Christians are trying to discover what they are to do with the problems that come up.  You see, Jesus didn’t leave an instruction manual with all the answers in it.  He knew what was coming, but instead of setting all the rules out in a book (remember, the New Testament didn’t start to get written down until ten or twenty years later, and wasn’t finished for about sixty years after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven) – so instead of leaving them with a church manual, he gave them people.  He appointed judges to sit on thrones.  He appointed apostles who would be the twelve pillars that the new Heavenly Jerusalem that God was building.
But Jesus didn’t just give the Church these fallen, imperfect human beings to make the decisions.  Ultimately, He left the Advocate (or Paraclete), the helper who “will lead you into all truth” – that is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit, God Himself and the most difficult person of the Trinity for us to really get a grasp of, is the one who guides the Church through all the messiness, past and present, of figuring out how God wants us to live in this world.  'It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities…
It is the Holy Spirit who works in the Apostles at the first Church Council (let’s call it “Jerusalem One” like “Vatican II”) makes it clear that many, many of the ancient Jewish practices are not required for us in Christ Jesus.  You can thank the Holy Spirit for bacon.  But you should thank Him for much more than that.  Ultimately, he is the one who gives that Peace that Jesus speaks of today in the Gospel.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.  This is possible because Jesus’ Spirit is given to us.  Just earlier this weekend we had our parishioners (and those of other parishes) receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  This great gift allowed them to be fully initiated in the sacraments, strengthening their Baptismal gifts.  The Holy Spirit is strengthening them and allowing them to have a peace that the world cannot give.
What does that mean?  It means a peace that continues to “not be troubled or afraid” even in the midst of trial.  The world can give peace alright, if a person has enough food, water, shelter, health, job security, entertainment, sports to play, music to hear, and chocolate to eat.   I guess that’s my list but anyone’s list would be pretty similar.  That’s worldly peace: if I have all those things.  But if some of them start falling away, or if even one of the more important ones goes, I can’t have worldly peace.  It gets exposed as a fake source of happiness.
Jesus’ peace comes from knowing you aren’t alone, and from knowing that He “is going away and will come back to me.”  That He will take us home to heaven.  Knowing that an eternal bliss is waiting for us allows us to have peace.  Knowing that the Heavenly Jerusalem exists and is there for us allows us to have peace even in the midst of trial and messiness.  Even if we have to be shamed for being a follower of Jesus, if we have to endure our own Crosses like His own, we are ready, because the Spirit is with us and because Jesus has won the war even if the nations rage on.
Thank the Holy Spirit for the assurance that the Church leads us and guides us into all truth, and gives us a peace that the world cannot give, a peace that the world can never take away.

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