“Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” (Psalm 104:30)
This past Wednesday, I went over to our convent to celebrate Mass for the anniversary of my priestly ordination, and right before I entered their chapel to begin the Mass, I noticed a banner that was hanging in the hallway that read: “One kneels conscious of one’s nothingness and rises a priest forever.” All of this happens because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that takes place during the laying on of hands. I knew how unworthy I was to even be called to this ministry. I knew I had failings and flaws. Yet, I knew and trusted in the power of the Spirit to transform me into the priest that God wanted me to be. “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” God took a young, very ordinary, shy kid, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, ordained him a priest forever.
Jesus Christ sends the Holy Spirit into the world to make the ordinary extra-ordinary. The Spirit comes to renew all of us and to help us be authentic witnesses of Christ’s message. We are not called to be ordinary. We are called to be divine. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. Yet, we have to understand and be open to this divine calling because too often we settle for mediocrity when it comes to being a follower of Christ. With the Spirit in us, we need to start transforming the world. This morning, I saw this image on Twitter from Catholic Relief Services that depicted a picture of a dry, barren landscape somewhere in Africa with a hungry child walking in the background. It was an image of despair, of hunger, of thirst, of desperation. The caption of the picture was today’s psalm response: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” Sometimes we are that parched, dry, barren, thirsting land, but we need to recognize that we too are barren and must welcome in the powerful, renewing force that is the Holy Spirit who brings that sweet dew, that refreshing rain, and the comfort and solace that we all seek.
The Spirit allows us to dream of what our spiritual lives can be and should be. In a catechism from St. Cyril of Jerusalem that I published in the bulletin this weekend, the Church father teaches us that the Holy Spirit enables us “to see things beyond the range of human vision, things hitherto undreamed of.” We limit ourselves so much when it comes to our Christianity that we don’t dream anymore of what God wants us to be. We confine ourselves to certain parameters when it comes to our religion and don’t dream about going outside of ourselves. Pope Francis tweeted this morning: “Come, Holy Spirit! Free us from being closed in on ourselves and instill in us the joy of proclaiming the Gospel.” The apostles were huddled up in that little room when they received the Spirit on Pentecost, but they did not stay there. They immediately went out to preach the Risen Christ; to dream of a world transformed by the Spirit they had just received. And they did so with the courage that is a gift of the same Spirit. Where is our courage? What are our dreams for our spiritual life?
I have but two simple dreams: holiness for myself and for my people. I’m tired of mediocrity. I’m tired of routine. Today we call upon that Spirit to renew our relationship with Christ; to come down like a consuming fire and to eradicate all that is sinful within us so that we can renew the face of the earth. The Spirit indeed helps us to cast off our old self to put on the armor of Christ needed to transform humanity. When it comes to the spiritual life, dream big! Dream of a Church guided by the Spirit that is sent forth by her Master to set the world on fire. “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”