Homily for May 15th, 2005.
Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.
Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.
Ever heard of Sören Kierkegaard? A Danish philosopher in the 18 th century. He also served for a while as a Lutheran minister in Denmark . In one of his sermons he expressed his concern that so many Christians are not Christians at all. As he saw it, too many of them talk a lot about being Christian, but they forget about being Christians themselves. He explained what he meant in a sermon about geese.
He compared his fellow Christians to domesticated geese. Those geese are always talking about flying: “We have wings, we never use our wings, we should use them, let us fly.” But nobody ever flies. On Sundays a big goose stands a bit higher than the other geese in a pulpit, and he too every Sunday exhorts the others to fly, in the most beautiful words. But nobody does fly. And if one should start to fly the preacher himself would be the first one to shout: “Come down immediately. Don’t get carried away.”
Ideally, the feast of Pentecost is the feast of our take-off with the Spirit. With that Spirit we have to fly in all directions where Jesus himself has gone. Of course, in his promptings the Spirit cannot easily be nailed down. If you read the Scriptures, it is even difficult to figure him out. He is given at different times, in different ways, in different gifts.
He is given at different times: in one Gospel he is given on the day that Jesus is raised from the dead; in another Gospel he is given 50 days later; in the Acts of the Apostles he is given every time he is needed.
And the way in which the Spirit is given: he blows over the disciples; fire descends on them; they get him in noise, light, smoke, silence. But in it all he is always about new life, about courage, about hope.
That same Spirit is also given in different gifts: in the gift of peace-making, in the gift of forgiving, in the gift of healing, in the gift of dancing, singing and praising the Lord, in the gift of protesting, in the gift of working for justice.
What the Scriptures try to convey to us is a summons to let ourselves be overcome and energized by the Spirit let loose, so that we may take off and fly. It won’t be a flight from the present, it won’t be an escape from the world. On the contrary, it will be a flight into the dawn of the Kingdom to come, and it will renew the face of the earth.
And I promise I’ll do my best as “the big goose” not to hold you back and say “come down immediately. Don’t get carried away.” I’ll do my best to fly with you into the dawn of God’s Kingdom.
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