growing young

There’s a lot of communication happening in today’s gospel:

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you.”

A couple of hundred years before the Pentecost event, a decree of King Ptolemy V of Egypt was inscribed on a large granite slab. Because the same inscription was etched not just in one but in three ancient languages, the rediscovery of the stone at the close of the 18th century unlocked the door to our comprehension of other texts written in many ancient tongues. The door to understanding these languages had been locked for many centuries leaving our contemporary world with no way of knowing and learning from the people who lived in the ancient world and who spoke these languages. Now, because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone we can share the wisdom of these ancestors. Today one of the most popular language learning courses is named “Rosetta Stone”.

When most people think of Pentecost they imagine visible tongues of fire descending on the first disciples, or the noise like a strong driving wind that filled the room in which they gathered. But we need to read further in the Acts of the Apostles to learn of the effect of the event. The passage continues by telling us that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim”. The remarkable thing was that when they left the room they discovered that when they spoke, people of every nation and language could understand what they were saying.

My greatest personal insight into this reality came a few years ago when I was sitting at a table with a group who were passionate in their desire to live in relationship with Christ. The problem for me was that they were from another country: I spoke not a word of their language and they had no knowledge of English. Surely this was the recipe for zero communication? But no. Instead a remarkable thing happened. While we may not have understood the individual words that were used in our conversation, we truly understood each other at a much deeper level.

I remember thinking that this was something of a miracle, and that sometimes when I am with a group of english speakers I may know the meaning of every word they use but I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about.

Words are powerful. Good communication is essential. But it is easy to reduce our expectation of communication to the simple sharing of information. Passing on information is an easy task that can be carried out successfully by a well-programmed robot or a household computer, but it is not the kind of communication that the disciples experienced as the result of Pentecost.

At Pentecost, the friends of Jesus were transformed into the community that lived with unity and spoke with unity. It was this unity that was the most visible and audible communicator of the new life that they now shared.

It is helpful to remember back to the early Old Testament introduction of disunity to our world. Adam and Eve acted against God’s abundant desire for them by grasping at a mirage of freedom. Within a few chapters of their departure from paradise the descendants of Adam and Eve were unwilling and unable to talk with each other. Their languages were confused and there was no longer communication between them. They simply babbled. (ref. The Tower of Babel).

It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in a community that reintroduces the possibility effective communication.

It is significant that Pope Francis speaks about the importance of loving communication regularly. A number of times he has spoken about negativity and gossip as the work of the devil. When we speak negatively about another, however justified we might think our comments are, we are (according to Pope Francis) engaging in war. When we speak against another, and avoid opportunities to be reconciled the devil is able to take a vacation since we are doing his work. We have ceased to be disciples of Jesus and have become the missionaries of satan.

This does not mean that all the Christians in a community will agree with each other. Our unity is not found in uniformity, but in a diversity that finds its unity only by being centred on Jesus..

It is important to remember that we all fall victim to negativity and gossip at times. But we must help each other to refocus on Jesus and his Word which brings life and unity. The one who silently and politely listens to the gossip has also become an accomplice of the devil.

You may not know this, but the Catholic Church has a Constitution. It was formed during the Second Vatican Council. One of the many great lines in this constitution is: The Holy Spirit enables the Church to grow young” (par.4)

That’s a great thought…’growing young!’ In a parish that might think of itself as ageing the Holy Spirit reminds us that new life and youth is available to us. This youth is not our own achievement. Our own efforts to create a unified community will exhaust us and will always fail. The depth of unity and communication we yearn for is a gift of God given to those who are open to receiving this gift.

In a society that esteems youth as the eternal goal promoting products and methods to help us to stay young, thanks be to God that we can see that physical agility youthful appearance cannot be the ultimate goal of life. Instead our youth is found in membership of a God-given comm-unity.

Our words have the power to break down and destroy the life that is sought by those who are truly young. As in these months we look to our future together, let us pray above all else that we will remember that the health and happiness we seek is found only in Jesus who is the ultimate communication of God, the Word of God alive among us.

 

An Invitation:

  • Which part of today’s reflection spoke to you most deeply. Why?
  • Pray to Sleep (a ten minute bedtime audio reflection) at this link.
  • Today’s readings at this link.
  • Send your prayer requests to john@fff.org.nz. Each day I will add the initials of those we pray for to this list. Take a moment, perhaps 15 seconds, to pray in whatever way you choose for those whose initials appear below, and don’t hesitate to send repeat requests for prayer. 

Let us pray today (Monday) especially for:   AL,  MM, SIM,  TP,  PB,  JL,  AP,  MM,  WP,  TEP,  LP,  JD,  MD,  SL,  PM,  JK,  SB,  BW,  LC,  RS,  EC,  KN,  JP,  IF,  TP,  TP,  MW,  JN,  SN,  

That church doors are opened for prayer and the sacraments as soon as possible,  For my neighbours and community facing a very difficult situation.  A major drug bust in the area and the ripples and homes affected by trust, addiction and the ramifications for that family are huge and far reaching.  For a priest in process of leaving priesthood.  Help us unite together. I praise God the truth is out.  Pray for all those affected by drugs.  Seminarians returning to Holy Cross this week. For daughter coping with marriage break up. For for a return to Mass for members of my family. For ill mother-in-law.

Sunday:  SP,  PB,  BH,  JJ,  KB,  DM,  GL (RIP last Tuesday)  JT,  

Saturday:   CM,  OP,  GC,  GS,  ES,  MLAH,  CS,  HC,  DC,  DU,   DMC,  FTM,  JS,  SD, MD, CM, TD. MM,   ZM,   LM,   SD,   JD,  LD,  AD. DC,  ME,, CE,  KC,  LC,  BC,  KC,  BC,

Friday:  LS (RIP),  AR,  TT,  BP,  MP,  PP,  GTD (RIP2015),  PB,  LM,  JK,  MK,  TJO, LB, DD, JRA,  FL, JU,   SLJ.  SLJ. JJJ.  MPJ,  JPM, MLFJ, MD,

Thursday:  SLJ,  JJJ,  RM,  SJ,  SF, SLJ,  JS,  FS,  MD,  GPD,  JMC,  AM & I,  MS,  MC, MR,  JCP,  MON,  SS,  MS, OD, ND, CD, JD, JD & KJ,  EJH,  ARO,  

Wednesday:   JS,  FS,  SF,  GJG (RIP),  JDG,  MD,  CGW,  SD,  TK,  JK,  RF,  GN,  OP,  GC, TN,  MC,  KJ,  SL,  AN,

Tuesday:   JMT,  KJ,   MD,  PM, MC, DP,  KD, AD,  BA,  RF,  MC,  PR,  JH,  GPB,

Last week:   AD, NF, PR, GPB,  BA, MA (RIP), LM,  SB,  MO’D,  S&SW,  DMcA,  SS, VM, PM, NM, BB,  BR, RM, IW,  BL,  AM, JM, SM, JH, CSL, BS, AW,  MR, SR, JC, LR, JF, AB, AB, MB, CB, LJ, AF, JB, CB, SB, MB (RIP), MR, MH, SR, RS, MTM, OH, MM (RIP),  SGS.  MC,  EH,  MAC, NDM,  JG, SL, JD,   AJ,  MLJ,  SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP,  GRJP,  JF, IC, RF,  JC,  LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG,  GC, AW,  DM,  MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP)AJ,  MLJ,  SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP,  GRJP,  JF, IC, RF,  JC,  LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG,  GC, AW,  DM,  MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP),  SS, BK, JKBP, CP, PP, BW, HT (RIP), SL, AW, DM, MM, PM, LH, TN, SF, SC, FM, T&TT, AR, HF, RF, JM, R&B, MC, MD,BH, SGS, JJHB, SJB, BB, MD, MB,  JT,  RF,  SS,  SS,  PB,  SD,  JR,  SQ,  JL, MCSM,  PR,  MJ,  MD,  SM,  PR,  MJ,  MD,

 

LECTIO DIVINA FOR MONDAY OF EASTER WEEK VI (18 May 2020)

Pictures received of any churches that have been significant in your faith journey will be included as the images on the daily Lectio Divina links. Send to john@fff.org.nz.

Today’s church:  St. Francis de Sales, Devonport, Auckland.

Monday Easter Week VI (15 minutes) 

Monday Easter Week VI  (25 minutes)

9 Responses to "growing young"
  1. I watched your suggested movie last night, and was totally blown away by the wonderful Faith and Charism of Sister Clare.
    We need to pray that more young people will be drawn into serving God using their amazing talents and gifts to share His love throughout the world.
    God bless you as you return to a more formal work this week Father John.

  2. They will expel you from the synagogues …… because they have never known either the Father or myself …… you may remember that I told you.

  3. Just wanted to send a note to Brian from yesterday’s comments. Not all the Masses are pre-recorded. I have only discovered that the Auckland Diocesan ones are pre-recorded, except for Te Atatu. There are many many live streamed Masses. I usually join the Christchurch Mass at 9am weekdays and 10am Sundays, or join Bishop Steve in Hamilton also at 9am daily. A great blessing for which I am so grateful.

  4. Good afternoon Fr. John.
    I have been busy fluffing around, and as I was putting my shoes away, I received a nudge. I knew who it was from – Jesus. “Get cracking and sit down and pray with me”. Which I am.
    I am so in love with your daily meditation, prayers and writings. Thank you for all these amazing gifts.
    Prayers in Christ.
    Sandra

  5. I’m a long time committed pray-er & am so enjoying the guided reflections as an alternative way of leading into prayer.

  6. I have watched and enjoyed the two movies you have sent. Last night I even had to put my knitting down as it was so powerful. Thank you. I send them on to a couple of friends, I know 1 was going to watch Sr Clare this afternoon.
    It is wonderful to get up in the morning and watch Mass. I either go to Hamilton where Bishop Steven is, or Whanganui where we have 2 Priests. All 3 make my life ready for the day.

  7. I’m still contemplating yesterday’s all or nothing post. Actually, I’ve been suffering the effects of not being able to receive and eat the Body of Christ, all throughout lockdown. It’s the physical aspects of giving, receiving, eating, sharing that make the communicating real for me. Jesus said ‘Take this and eat it’. This is how he reaches down from heaven to remain in me and me in him, in the here and now. Yeah, I’m missing out, but I know it’s only temporary. In the meantime, spiritual communion and remembering is all I can offer. Something is better than nothing but it’s not everything.

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