Monday, May 22, 2017

Holy Buckets

Cape Cod is blessed with many birds. We have resident and migratory birds making many of us watchers of chicadees, robins, cardinals, blue jays, and many more.

I like the ospreys, the sea hawks – birds of the sea.  Like all the other birds, they soar in the sky.  They have the gift of flight making all of us jealous, although some of us have taken to the air through drones with their cameras.

We can learn from ospreys and all the rest.  They don’t appear to mind the wind.  They fly over land and sea seeming to enjoy the buffeting with wind blowing their feathers.  They go with the wind.  They go against the wind.  They soar into the sky and then plunge back to earth and the water.  All the time they use the wind; they make use of its power.
Today on this 6th Sunday of Easter, two weeks before Pentecost, we read about a special kind of power we all can use – and we do, sometimes effectively, but at other times, not so much.  It’s the
Holy Spirit often described as the wind, or the breath of God.  It’s the wind that buffets us with our sometimes going against it and sometimes with it.  We can listen to the Spirit or choose not to pay attention.

A little boy stopped in front of a church with his bike and he saw the priest come out.  The priest said, "Come inside, I want to show you something."  The little boy said to the priest, "But somebody will steal my bike."  The priest replied, "Don't worry, the Holy Spirit will watch it." So the little boy went inside and the priest said, "Let me show you how to do the sign of the cross. ‘In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.’ Now you try it."

The boy then said, "In the name of the Father and the Son, Amen.” The priest asked, "What happened to the Holy Spirit?" The boy replied, "He's outside, watching my bike.”

The little boy listened.  

Our first reading speaks of the Holy Spirit and its power to help rid ourselves of unclean spirits that can possess us, paralyze us, and cripple us. The Holy Spirit helps us sweep away the unclean spirits we can call envy, hatred, laziness, anger, racism, hypocrisy, arrogance, and deceit.  These unclean spirits promote or give proof of evil. 

Of course, many of us resist the Spirit, and when we do, we don’t soar.  We plummet to the ground like a bird that has lost its feathers. We sometimes hear that someone’s Spirit has been broken or crushed.  They cannot soar; their feathers are lost or perhaps just oiled.  There are many times in our lives when we don’t soar – more like crawling.

What causes our spirit to soar and not to sink?  According to the Irish priest Flor McCarthy: Sadness weighs the Spirit down; joy lifts it up.  Criticism erodes it; praise builds it up.  Failure shrinks it; success enlarges it.  Despair causes it to wilt; hope brings new life into it.  Rejection wounds it; acceptance heals it.  Hatred poisons it; love purifies it.  Fear cripples it; solitude calms it, and prayer strengthens it.

Our Holy Spirit is our most precious possession.  It’s our greatest source of energy.  However, even though it can be very strong, it can also be very brittle.  It can be an oak unmoved in a storm or a frail reed swaying in the wind.  It can be a piece of granite or a piece of china. That’s the reason why we await Pentecost when the gift of the Spirit is renewed in each of us and in the Church as a whole.  
As in every movie theater before the main feature, our Gospel according to John tells us that Pentecost is coming attraction.  Jesus tells us: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him.  But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”

That’s a feature or movie worth waiting for, and we don’t have to pay for an expensive ticket.

There was a young man who complained that whenever he was filled with the Holy Spirit, he was like a bucket with holes. The Spirit merely drained out of him. His friend said, "That may be true, but even a bucket full of holes can be filled with water if it is immersed in the river and left there."

We all may be buckets full of holes.  But our faith keeps us immersed in the river we call Jesus Christ who has given us the Holy Spirit to clean the oil off our feathers.  When we are in need, the Spirit lifts us up on osprey’s wings; bears us on the breath of dawn; makes us shine like the sun; and holds us in the palm of God’s hand.

Deacon David Pierce
Homily for 6th Sunday of Easter 10:30 Mass

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