May 17, 2020
The Sixth Sunday of Easter
(Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; John 14:15-21)
Both passages before us today, speak of the Holy Spirit. Interesting, in a way, that we have these readings now and not as alternative readings for Pentecost Sunday in a couple of weeks. We are used to hearing the passages of the Holy Spirit coming like tongues of fire, but the Holy Spirit comes in whatever way God wishes.
How often we read these scripture passages and think to ourselves, “Oh, but the Holy Spirit wouldn’t come to me in this way – probably not even at all!” We all think these thoughts from time to time. I sometimes feel much like we have learned that St. Mother Teresa of Kolkata felt at times in her religious life. I too often feel as though God has left me, that He no longer comes to me or hears me. Many of us experience “dark nights of the soul.” Yet, time and again, our Lord senses this and sends us little reminders that He is indeed still there.
Sometimes, it isn’t so much that He has “left” us, as merely He is allowing – in fact – encouraging us to seek Him out. Sometimes, our free will gets in the way. Let me try an exoteric story of sorts to help.
Let’s say you are standing at the base of a very large mountain. This mountain has a very gradual ascent, with smaller interlocking mountains and several paths one could take to reach the peak or pinnacle. The endeavor is for you to reach this peak or pinnacle.
Naturally, seeing the many possible paths, it is a challenge to determine which path will lead to the peak if at all. Certainly, more than one path could possibly get you there with varying lengths of passage. Or, maybe only one path will lead there. But, you must first choose a path. God gives allows us our free will, so the challenge is to determine the appropriate path.
So, you chose a path and start walking. It appears to be getting dark and this path does not appear to be leading to the peak. So, you choose another path, and then another. Finally, you become disoriented and filled with anxiety so you call out for help for someone to lead you back down.
Once you arrive back down, you are discouraged because you didn’t get to the peak. You become frustrated because you did not know which path to take. Someone else comes along and asks if they can help and you explain your ordeal. The stranger explains why.
The stranger says you were far too focused on the which path to take, instead of choosing the paths up. He says you should have always choose the higher ground. Take a path that is ascending. When it stops ascending, switch to the path that is still ascending, and so forth. It rarely is one path, but a connection of many that leads to the top.
It can be the same with our walks with God! The pinnacle or peak of the mountain represents God’s calling in your life. His will and purpose for your life. You don’t need to know exactly which path, so long as you are always sure you are ascending. When you choose the higher ground, sometimes there are higher footsteps to take.
No matter where you started from; no matter where you are now, you will end up in the exact, specific, appointed and perfect will of God! The peak or pinnacle of God’s purpose in life.
Why? Because whether we feel it or not, the Holy Spirit is always with us. Jesus promised us this. Once we receive the Holy Spirit through our Baptism and Confirmations, the Holy Spirit is granted us. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, will be with us until the end of the age.
The Holy Spirit will indeed come as God so wishes, as I said earlier. Whether it be in a friend, a co-worker, your pastor, a stranger or an email or message of some kind. The Holy Spirit will come!
We are living in a challenging and scary time. As the world’s religions joined Pope Francis’ call for all religions to join with the Roman Catholic Church to pray for the end of this pandemic this past Thursday, I too joined in prayer. Millions of people did the same. We do this, because of our faith in a healing God, in a loving and beneficent God.
He knows our sorrow. He knows our sorrow, because He came and died on the cross for us! He is with us now. And in His time, he will eradicate this evil from our lives. We must still follow the paths we have chosen, and if they are not leading to higher ground, we should change another path.
As we continue to celebrate Easter, as best as we can in current times, we are called to not lose faith; to not give up; and to know there is always light ahead no matter how dark the night of the soul is. The Holy Spirit will draw us out of that darkness so that we can resume our journey.
My prayers remain with us all during this time. Let us all take a moment to ask God to intervene in our time and set us free from this epidemic.
God Love You +++
The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Chapel
San Diego, CA