11 April 2013

The Spirit is not rationed

St. Stanislaus
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
Notre Dame Seminary/St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Today's Good News—every day's Good News—is that God freely offers His boundless mercy to all sinners through the death and resurrection of His Christ. And not only does He offer us His mercy for the forgiveness of our sins, He also pours out—with extravagant excess—the gift of His Holy Spirit. And why should God be so generous? Because He loves the world so, that He gives to us His only-begotten Son in death so that we might live, and live eternally. Such love-in-sacrifice cannot be wasted in giving stingy gifts, or by withholding those favors that help us grow to perfection in Christ. God's generosity, by its very nature, is diffusive—spreading, increasing, saturating, and enriching; satisfying and fulfilling every holy desire, every human longing to belong more intimately, to adhere more closely to Him Who is all in all. If a grace can be put to work in speaking His Word or doing His will, then that grace is given. John teaches us, “[God] does not ration his gift of the Spirit.” No rationed gift is worth receiving, therefore, gratefully welcome into your life the lavish gift of God's Holy Spirit. And remember: with gratitude comes generosity. 

As followers of Christ, we are vowed to the graced task of becoming Christs for one another and for the world. Our transformation from worldly sinners to divine slaves is accomplished through the once- for-all sacrifice of Christ Jesus on the cross and his resurrection from the tomb. And if our transformation in Christ is to be made perfect, we not only need the generous on-going blessings of God, we must also generously divide and distribute to others the gifts we receive. After all, we know that love is made perfect in sacrifice. Christ on the cross reveals this truth. The empty tomb of Easter morning reveals this truth. And it is our vowed responsibility as the priests, prophets, and kings of the Father's kingdom to see that the truth of His love and mercy is constantly uncovered, persistently revealed in every word we speak, in every thought we think, and in every deed we do. If the Father's grace-giving generosity through Christ is diffusive (and it is), then the nature of our own gift-sharing must follow His. The Spirit we receive is not rationed, nor measured but freely, copiously poured out. In justice, we give Him thanks and praise. 

Our Father justly receives our gratitude and adoration for His kindness. And in a world made perfect through Christ, we too would justly receive the gratitude of all those with whom we share the fruits of His Spirit. But we know all too well that the world we live in has never been, is not now, and will not always be grateful for the Word shared. Peter and Apostles discovered this truth. Arrested and imprisoned by the Sadducees, the Apostles are charged with heresy. When confronted by their accusers with their disobedience, the Apostles reply, “We must obey God rather than men.” Thus are martyrs made. But there is no help for it. We are new men and women in Christ, and that newness compels us to bear witness, to give testimony to the Good News that no one must remain a slave to sin, no one must remain in darkness, no one must live apart from the sacrificial love of Christ. The Spirit is not rationed, parceled out piece-meal to favored tribes, nations, or races. Nor is the Spirit measured out according to worth or achievement, prestige or popularity. Once for all Christ died on the Cross and rose from the tomb. Bear witness then to graces you have received; be made perfect in love by sacrifice. 

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  1. I wasn't really sold on this homily after reading it early this morning. Guess I just needed to hear it. I'm now sold. Well preached.

    Thank you.

    1. It preached much better at NDS than St Dominic's. I was beyond tired at the 5.30pm Mass.