November 27, 2020
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Building Up Our Spirit-Given Gifts

Building Up Our Spirit-Given Gifts

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church!

Its conception had been very quiet: from the side of the first Adam asleep, Eve, the mother of humanity, came forth. From the opened side of Jesus, asleep in death, on mount Calvary, mother Church was conceived. The Church’s conception took place in the stillness of death, in the supreme sacrifice of our Savior. Its birth, though, was marked by the roaring of the Spirit, by tongues of fire, thunders, driving wind. Marvelous sings of things to come, of the radical transformation of the lives of all those in His path.

Our Gospel passage (John 20:19-23) offers us a graphic image of this transformation of the Church, of each member of the Church upon the outpouring of the Spirit. Locked doors are propped open. A bunch of scared, frightened individuals are thrust into the forefront of serious confrontations with all those who had forced them to lock those doors and find meager protection inside the walls of the upper room.

Here is the birth of our Church.  

Finally, as soon as Jesus breathes his Spirit, the Church cannot remain clammed up. It has to share the transformation operated by the Spirit with those on the outside. Being together in fellowship is in function of going out, of bearing witness, of proclaiming a message, of unleashing the Gospel.

In light of what is happening to us believers, with our religious rights gradually curtailed and diminished; in light of what is happening to our children, who are yanked away from our guidance, protection, formation and care, in light of what is happening to our world poisoned by violence, trivialized by self-absorption and hedonism and gutted by loss of values; Pentecost must serve as a wake up call, as a forceful reminder that we have no choice but to accept our call to be “beneficially dangerous,” (the way electric power is dangerous), to leave a deep mark into the fabric of our society, to be salt that burns and light that penetrates and exposes hidden flaws.

It is time we realize that on the other side of our locked doors, our opponents are still lurking. The forces of darkness have not given up, but now we can be the powerful, the possessed, the enlightened, the anointed, the empowered, the transformed, the motivated from within, the ones willing to be sacrificed. We can be the ones called to be “beneficially dangerous” to those who prefer stagnation and status quo. We are the ones called to be dangerous to false securities and disengagement, to indifference and compromises, to submissiveness and resignation.

Those without Christian values, lofty ideals, firm principles, sense of responsibility; those lacking decency, accountability, respect for the conscience of others; those driven by self-interest, self-absorption, self-gratification have been slowly chipping away at our rights, at our call to be Spirit-filled. They have had little or nothing to worry from us because we chose to be timid, conciliatory, willing to compromise and even to hide our beliefs.  

Too often we might have chosen quiet living, avoiding any direct confrontation with falsehood and blatant deception. To ease our conscience we might have referred to this choice as “minding our business,” but we wound up being insignificant, irrelevant and flat. Those timid decisions might have sounded prudent at the time, but something inside us kept telling us that we had stifled the Spirit of God with which we had been anointed repeatedly in Baptism and Confirmation. 

Recently, we might have busied ourselves worrying about this tragic economic downturn beyond dutiful concern for securing a decent living for our families so as to care about the spreading of relativism and the loss of Gospel values. But now, if we let him, the Spirit will rush into us like sweeping, driving wind, to dispel all our lame excuses. He will burn with a consuming fire all our fears. He will open our doors to chase away our delusions and false hopes.

My dear fellow disciples of Jesus Christ, it is time to be jolted into action. It is time to appreciate and to rely on the power we are given in the Spirit.

Hence, if we so decide, today, the Holy Spirit can prop our doors open. In Him we shall let those whom we elected to serve us according to the laws of this country know that we will not stand idle if they insist on taking away our constitutional rights, on censoring ideas and words with which they disagree, on scoffing at Christian principles, on undermining the authority of parents over their children in order to attempt to override reality by the foolishness of political correctness and warped ideologies

The more we love the Lord, his Church, our family and our country, the more we will seek the inner fire of the Holy Spirit  to possess us to work untiringly for the glory of God,  the spiritual well-being of the Church, the good of our families and of society. We cannot sit on our hands and hope that all those things that cause us to worry will fix themselves without the direct involvement of people of good will and many sacrifices.

Since the forces of evil have been working overtime, we do not have that luxury anymore. It is not enough to rationalize our disengagement and hope for the best. We cannot afford to hope that we and our family will be spared, or that others will pick up the flag, keep the fire burning and continue to fight for worthy Gospel causes. Our family, our Church, our society do not need more members, they need Spirit-anointed, Spirit-filled, Spirit-driven people who are willing to pay a high personal cost, even the highest, in order to renew the face of the earth.

This is how, once again, through our personal sacrificial love, we can unite people together and heal the festering wounds of our world. 

This is how we can exercise our mission of removing the sin of despair and rebellion and decay from this world.

This is how we can use our Spirit-given gifts for the up-building and benefit of the whole Body of Christ, our Church on her birthday and beyond. 

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Fr Dino Vanin
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Fr Dino Vanin