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“The Spirit does not come in our strength, but in our weakness, when we are able to say: Come Holy Spirit.”
Pentecost - John 15,26-16,12-15
I don't know if you've ever realized that no Gospel story speaks directly of Christian Pentecost. Only Saint Luke, as on the feast of Ascension, in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, tells us what happened that day. According to his account, it took 50 days for Jesus' followers to understand the meaning of Easter and let themselves be freed from all kinds of imprisonments. Note the good thing: it took 50 days of very intense therapy given by Jesus himself to free his disciples from fear!
We too are often locked in our fears and prejudices:
fear of the other,
fear of hurting or being hurt,
sometimes fear of loneliness or intimacy,
the fear of being criticized or the fear of failing,
fear of our own weakness, and so on.
Very often these fears, rooted in the fragility and wounds of our lives, paralyze and block us by preventing us from accepting our difficulties in relational life. Worse still: having a negative image of ourselves, we hide our poverty, walking around with masks that can be adjusted according to circumstances.
A few years ago, I read a little book called “At the Risk of Intimacy.” Its author lists 4 types of masks that protect us from our fears, and with which we like to walk: the conciliatory, the critical, the computer and the distracted.
The conciliator: he is a buffer person who seeks to avoid any confrontation and accepts anything to be at peace. He is always afraid to disturb so he wants to please everyone.
The critic: he is the one who wants to always remain in a position of strength. The others serve him only to meet his need to be important. He always attacks first because, according to him, the best defense is the attack.
The computer: it is a “programmed” type. He hides all his feelings. According to him emotions are dangerous. It is better not to manifest them. The important thing is to live intelligently and to act for reason.
And finally, distracts him. He, too, is afraid of emotions and of facing reality. So, he distracts himself or he distracts others in order to make himself loved. What he says doesn't often make much sense, but it makes you laugh. It is therefore very appreciated and sought after for parties and evenings with friends.
The masks are here, my brothers and sisters! They protect us, and it would be illusory for them to fall to our first desires for change in our behavior. Let us not forget that it took 50 days of a very intense presence and therapy given by Jesus himself, to free his disciples from their masks. It took Pentecost, the strength from above, for these men and women to be freed from their fears and their need to appear.
And one more thing.
It is said that “the Holy Spirit is an unknown God; a great unknown to the Holy Trinity”. Yes, God the Father — we can pretty much see who he is, for we have the image of fatherhood on earth; God the Son, Jesus — we can imagine him quite easily, because he took our flesh, became man, and dwelt among us. But the Holy Spirit? It's hard to represent him, to get an idea of who he is.
One day, speaking of the Holy Spirit, Pope Francis told us this little personal anecdote: “Once,” he said, when I was a parish priest, during the Mass for children on the day of Pentecost, I asked: Who knows who is the Holy Spirit? All the children raised their hands... One of them answered, “The Holy Spirit is a paralytic.”
He had heard “Paraclete”, from the Greek “Paraklêtos”, which means defender or advocate, the name that Saint John gives to the Holy Spirit in the gospel of this feast, and he understood “paralytic”. Yes, if we so often remain sick, paralyzed and crippled in our spiritual life, in our walk to God and in our service to the Church - it is because we confuse PARACLITO with PARALITICO.
Let us therefore ask today for the grace to open ourselves more often to the strength from above, while knowing that the Holy Spirit is not given to us because we are strong, wise and able to succeed in our lives on our own. The Spirit does not come in our strength, but in our weakness, when we are able to say: Come Holy Spirit. Wash what is soiled! Heal what's hurt! Make what's wrong straight! Warm up what's cold!
Yes, dear brothers and sisters, to relegate the Holy Spirit to the oblivion of our existence is to deprive ourselves of the source that renews and transforms our ways of living and loving.
Other homilies by Father Stanislas