College Chaplain Reflection – May 12, 2016

November 5, 2016

When explaining the Mass to the students, one element they are often intrigued by are the shifting seasons of liturgical colours. Getting ready for Mass one day, I overheard one student say to another as I pulled out my red chasuble, -I know the red symbolises the blood of Jesus and all that, but that red is just too much.-

Well, I will be in red again this Sunday for Pentecost. He should be glad to know that the chasuble I will be wearing this time is perhaps a little more subdued in tone. It won’t be representing blood however, but fire, taking our minds back to the -‘tongues, as of fire’ that came down to rest on the disciples as they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. To cut a long story short (and not before its time); let’s talk about the Holy Spirit. Or rather, let’s listen to St Basil the Great talking about the Holy Spirit, because he speaks real good-like.

-Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifold in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual; the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self-giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as though exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.-

Even for someone somewhat Sun-averse like myself, that image of the Holy Spirit like the sunshine is a beautiful one. It helps us to see that Holy Spirit gives himself totally to all without ever exhausting himself. He warms without ever losing warmth, enlightens without ever waning, gives life without ever tiring. That is the first half of the analogy, and it should fill us with great confidence and hope.

Notice now the second half, that idea of filling each with a -‘delight limited only by their own nature’. That is important, and helps us to complete our understanding of how the Holy Spirit acts. Just like the sunshine is available to all, the Holy Spirit offers himself as a free gift to every person. However, he never forces himself on us. We receive inasmuch as we are open to that gift. And just like the Sun does not turn a flower into a tree or grass into potatoes, but rather gives growth to the full blossoming of each plant according to its own nature, so too the Holy Spirit gives rise to our own individual perfection, each according to the unique plan God has in store for us.

May we always remain open to the gift of the Holy Spirit, may we discern the path he has laid out for us and may we step forth in confident hope that he will bring us safely to its completion.- –