The Gospel reading, on the feast of Pentecost, contained a superb three step guide to living faith. It is, I suggest, the answer to all modern ills.
Jesus stood among them.
The disciples were hapless and dejected after Christ’s crucifixion. Hidden behind locked doors and looking inwards in fear. But once the risen Lord appeared they were transformed by that encounter. Doors were unlocked, fear faced and they went out with zeal to transform a fallen world for the sake of the Kingdom.
Clearly we need this personal encounter with the risen Lord if our faith is to be authentic and life changing. We need a conversion of heart not just catechesis if our faith is to be more than merely tribal or intellectual and deeper than a mere interest in the outward trappings of religious observance. Through personal prayer, private devotion and public worship we must connect with the supernatural presence of God, forming a living relationship with him lest we also turn inwards in fear and introspection.
Jesus showed them his hands and his side
If Marvel had invented a risen Saviour then His wounds would have magically vanished at the resurrection. Instead Christ chose to bear the signs of his passion as an eternal reminder that there is no crown without the cross. Clearly the divine encounter must lead to sacrifice in love. Nobody can truly come to Christ serving self and living by the fallen standards of this world. We must turn from sin and be faithful to the Gospel and this is always costly whilst the spiritual battles for life exist. Which is why genuine encounter always did lead to radical witness. To the taking up of a cross in love.
So the true believer is one who lays down a life for Christ; their attitudes, beliefs and behaviour being formed by a desire to be faithful to the Gospel in all things. Is your faith sacrificial? Aside from attending Mass how does it manifest? Do your attitudes, beliefs and behaviour make clear that Jesus is Lord? If you were arrested for being Christian would there be evidence to convict you? Or are you foolishly attempting to have your cake and eat it, paying lip service to Christ will endorsing the fallen philosophies of this world?
Jesus said receive the Holy Spirit
Only when step one and two are completed can we ever progress to step three. For it is a thing dependent on the first two. The first two were centred on our response to God whereas this final stage is centred on his response to us. It is the reward of living faith which brings joy to the believer. The life of grace. Jesus said Receive the Holy Spirit’ and since then, whenever a human soul (1) encounters the Lord and (2) gives themselves to him, they are (3) transformed by grace. Beatified. Sanctified. The gift of the Spirit is given to them. The indwelling of God in the human soul. That is how Saints are made!
At Pentecost barriers were shattered. First the barrier between God and man, caused by original sin, and second the barriers that exist between men. In the power of the Spirit, ‘each heard in his own language’. God’s power brought people together, uniting them in shared truth and experience. The universal church was born.
If we want to know how to heal the obvious broken church and culture of the 21st Century, I suggest, we need start the three step plan once more. For only when enough people encounter the risen Christ, and unite in the objective truth of the Gospel, will we transform again the face of the earth. Without God man cannot flourish or be free. Only with him do we rise above our fallen nature. The steps are simple but none can be avoided. Will you help begin again the revolution? It occurs one life at a time.