When Christ was parting from His disciples on the day of His glorious and bright Ascension, He commanded them to remain in Jerusalem until they should be clothed with strength from on high; after that it was their duty to go out into the world as messengers of God the Father. They were to go out into the world, as Christ had gone out into the world, to preach that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and that God has become man, that the abyss dividing us from Him is closed; that He is in our midst and that salvation has already come; to go forth into the world preaching that the time of fear is past, and that the time of sacrificial, joyful love has come; to go out into the world to bring comfort to every man, to wipe away every tear, to put an end to despair and loneliness, for God is with us.
On the day of Pentecost the disciples and all who were with them were indeed clothed with power from on high; the Holy Spirit descended upon them as fire, as flame, as love, as victory. And they went forth proclaiming that this was the victory that had overcome the world.
We too have been clothed with this power, grace has rested on us also, we too are sent into the world by Christ. But how unlike the holy apostles we are, how unlike the saints whose memory we keep today! They had such inspiration and courage, they entered fearlessly into a world that was much more frightening than ours. Lovingly they gave up life, which was God’s gift to them, that others might come to life through them, and stay alive through their death if necessary.
How unlike them we are! When we stop to examine ourselves, I and you and each one of us, how much irresolution, how much unconquered fear and cowardice do we see. We live as though that victory, that strength and life had not rested upon us; we live like, a huddled flock, like people who cling to each other because they are afraid to be separated and remain alone in the world which they still fear. This just means that we have not yet believed God saying that no one is alone, that God is with us, that however scattered we may be, Christ is with each one of us, that the grace and power of the Holy Spirit is with each of us, and that we do not need to lean upon one another because we have a support that is stronger than any human support. And although a contact with people of our own faith, with people close to us through ties of blood or faith is a great joy, our calling, when we have received this strength from on high from God, is to go out into the world and bring it that message without which it is perishing, and will perish utterly unless it hears the good news and accepts Christ’s witness.
Are we really going to continue living as we do? We live as though the miracles of which the Gospel speaks, of which we hear at every liturgy, have not touched us; at every liturgy we hear the words “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all”. God is with us; do we really, need anything else? And again we are faced with the same question: have we believed God, have we believed Christ? Have we believed the people who say in the words of St. John, “We bear witness of what we have seen with our own eyes, heard with our own ears, touched with our own hands”. They speak of matters that they know for certain and can proclaim with certainty. And if this is so, what are we afraid of? Are we not clothed with this grace? Is the same God not with us? Were the saints whose memory we celebrate today different from us? No. They too were people, fragile and weak, whose bodies grew tired, whose spirit was frightened, but their faithfulness saved them. Once we could have pleaded lack of knowledge, but now only faithfulness can save us and put us on the path of the saints whom we admire so much, to whom we pray, and who inspire us – but, alas, only to words, not to a way of life.
Last Sunday we received a renewal of the power and grace of the Divine, all-creative Spirit, so now, from this very day, let us put our faith in Christ, let us believe His witnesses, and let us go forth into life without fear, even though with trepidation, with a faithful heart, not proudly trusting to our own powers, but knowing that the strength of God is made prefect in weakness, and that to us also, as to the apostles, all things are possible through the Lord Jesus Christ who strengthens us. Amen.
Published: NEWS LETTER No. 165