St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Come Holy Spirit                                                                                                  -Homily May 25, 2014

 

Salvation from God, not from ourselves

 

Jesus promises an Advocate, the coming of the Holy Spirit. This gives me the opportunity to reflect on a particular characteristic of our Catholic faith. We do not believe in a salvation coming from ourselves. The doctrine we believe is not the invention of a human being, it is not a philosophy, it is not the experience of a particular so-called “holy” man or guru. It is not a fable or a myth. The salvation we hope for is not something understandable, enclosed in human limits. It is not limited by death, it is not even limited by the powers of our spiritual nature. The salvation we expect is divine. “No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and it has never entered the human mind what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The doctrine we believe comes from God, and it comes through the God-man, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary.

 

Salvation does not come from ourselves. We do not know what salvation is. We want to be happy, but we cannot reach perfect happiness by ourselves. We want to be happy, but we have never been there. Sadness and problems threaten every step of our life and death puts an end to all we know. Some people try to make sense of all these things by saying that our salvation is in the nothingness of death… They are proud, and don’t want to accept a salvation coming from another one. They don’t want to recognize that they are in need, they don’t want to turn to God and say: “All right, I need you, help me!” They are proud, and so they need to invent an escape, a human salvation, an illusion. God prepared for us something much better than that. Heaven is God himself for us, the goodness of the Lord and his happiness abiding in our human hearts forever.

 

How do we get there? How can we attain something that is beyond our nature? That is why we need the Holy Spirit! Our knowledge is not enough, our love is also limited. The Holy Spirit helps us. St. Paul says: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rm 8:26). The Holy Spirit will teach us everything (cf. John 14:26) and he pours out in our hearts the love of God: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rm 5:5). The Holy Spirit helps us to enter into communion with God, to love God and to know him in a divine way. The Holy Spirit transforms, without destroying, our human nature so that we are elevated to the status of adopted children, and he moves us to call God “Abba”, father, in a way that could never be imagined before.

 

Salvation is something we receive. That is why we Catholics seem to be so “passive.” We don’t decide what we believe, we receive it. Not even the pope can change the doctrine. Neither is the structure of the Church in our hands. Those things are established by others, and we accept them. This, however, is not passivity, but rather humility, and I want to finish by saying two good things about humility.

 

Humility makes us wiser that the wise of the world. We don’t make up our own salvation simply because it doesn’t make sense. When you are humble, you are being realistic: “I am not God, I cannot save myself, I cannot make myself happy.” People who think otherwise are pitiable. The beginning of wisdom is to realize that we do not know everything, and the wiser you are, the more aware you are of your own ignorance. Socrates, the pagan philosopher, in the summit of wisdom, said: “I only know that I know nothing.”

 

Humility makes us truly free. Put it in this way: in a wedding, the marriage is not valid until the woman says “yes”. It is as if the woman received the proposal from the man, and we all in the Church are waiting for that “yes, I do” to breathe again… This is humility! It is an active reception of salvation. It is our free response to the love of God. God does not impose on us a burden we have to bear, he offers us his own being, his love, a love he knows that makes us happy, and we are free to accept it. But if we do not recognize that we need him, we are closed to that love. Pride is to think that you are sufficient for yourself. Humility is to realize that you need another one, the Other one, to be happy.

 

Come Holy Spirit! Come through the Holy Virgin Mary! Come and teach us how to pray. Come, and kindle in us the love of God. Make us humble, but active in the love of God and our neighbour. Make us truly free. Come Holy Spirit, we need you, come through the Holy Virgin Mary!  –Fr. Andrew