Shoulders (2022 Loyola Schools Mass of the Holy Spirit homily)
09 Sep 2022 | Fr Jose Ramon Villarin SJ
Read the full text of the homily of Fr Jose Ramon "Jett" Villarin SJ during the 2022 Loyola Schools Mass of the Holy Spirit last Thursday, 8 September 2022, at the Church of the Gesù.
Let me tell you some secrets about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not give you answers to your exam. You will have to study. The Holy Spirit will not set the table for you to feed you. Someone else or you yourself will have to set food on the table.
The Holy Spirit is not readily recognizable as we just heard in the Gospel. The "world", this sphere of power that is opposed to God, such a world cannot accept the Spirit of truth since "it neither sees him nor recognizes him."
The Holy Spirit is like an invisible electromagnetic field that carries invisible waves. It goes through walls that are not just physical, even thick walls put up by the human heart. You sense its signal when you are attuned to it. Like love, it is mostly invisible but its effects are visible.
It has superpowers but of the kind you least expect. Like forces in the nucleus of the atom, the Holy Spirit is a force that is at once weak and strong.
It is weak when you say no to it, when you deny its summons, because like love, it cannot force you to say yes when you want to say no. It can only wait for the choices you make with your freedom.
However, the Holy Spirit is strong when you say yes to it, when you accept its summons for you "to live a life worthy of the calling you have received," as Paul today enjoins the Ephesians. It is strong when it confirms your yes. And literally, to confirm is to strengthen with, to make strong and hold fast together. You cannot be strong when you are alone, when you are not with others, when you are not with God.
They say the sign of the Holy Spirit is in the shoulders. In the sign of the cross, the Father is in the head, from which flows will and intention and conception. The Son is in the heart, the wellspring of love and forgiveness and redemption. The Holy Spirit is in the shoulders, inspiring us and empowering us to carry burdens we sometimes fear will be the death of us.
The Holy Spirit is both inspiration and power. Inspiration to be creative and free for others; it is also power, power to follow through on that inspiration.
The Holy Spirit inspires courage and patience just as it empowers us for co-creation, co-responsibility, and oblation. In other words, work, action, and yes perspiration.
The Holy Spirit is fire and warmth and light. He or she is the opposite of cold and numb and dark. The Holy Spirit is the opposite of all the unholy ghosts we allow to frighten us and expire us. These unholy ghosts steal our hope by distracting us, daring us to be selfish and lazy and false.
Surely the Holy Spirit is no genie in a bottle. The Holy Spirit may not give us answers to exams, nor spoon feed us the food we desire, but we will not be ghosted by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is presence, simple presence, patient presence, invisible as waves that go through walls, yet real and constant, true to being by our side, our very own advocate, on the side of truth and justice and love, defending us in trying times such as these.
The Holy Spirit is near, everywhere, in every breath, every smile, every heartache, in some tug at the shoulder that reminds us there is more to life than what is visible and heavy and fleeting. The Holy Spirit is here, outside, inside, in every twitch of the soul that senses we will always be more than what we think we are.
Come Holy Spirit, we pray, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And with our shoulders, You shall renew the face of the earth.
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