EPB – 19 May 2024

The Divine Wind

Message by: Fr Richard M Healey

MP3 media (9am)

MP3 media (5pm)

In today’s homily, I reflected on our bishop’s pastoral vision, emphasising the profound need for God in our lives. Many seem to live without this need, yet we’re called to invite them to encounter Jesus’ transformative love. I drew upon the Pentecost experience, where the disciples, gathered and yearning for God, were touched by the Holy Spirit’s power. This encounter, marked by wind and flame, was both overwhelming and healing, showing the Spirit’s desire to reach all hearts. I stressed the importance of openness to the Spirit, urging our church to embrace prayer and allow the Spirit to transform us, enabling us to share God’s praises publicly. As we receive the Spirit’s gifts, we must let it change us, moving beyond self-sufficiency to a life soaked in God’s presence. Let us be a church alive with the Spirit’s transformative power, bringing new vitality to our community.

(00:00:00) – We’re beginning to reflect on the Bishop’s pastoral vision for our church. And the first section that we’re kind of pondering and looking at today is really this experience of where does God fit into our lives and into our world. How do we make sense of the reality that for so many people in our society, they just don’t seem to have a need for God, that there isn’t this hunger, this yearning, this longing that is there because we know that we will bring people through a program of formation for the different sacraments. We will invite them to be part of our worshipping community over a number of weeks. But they will successfully receive the sacraments and yet still walk away from our church. And for so many people, God just seems to be an irrelevance, something that is just not part of their life and part of their experience. And Bishop Ryan’s document, you’re kind of referring to the writings of earlier popes, of Paul VI, of John Paul II, of Benedict XVI and Francis.

(00:01:33) – That whole experience that we have within our world of this need to encounter Jesus, this need to let that love actually be something real and concrete, something that makes a difference in our lives. Because the thing that those 120 disciples who were all gathered in that room, the one thing that they all had in common was that they realised they needed God. They longed for God to come, because all of them had been part of that experience of being ministered to by Jesus, walking with him, seeing the wonder of his love, seeing the power of what he was able to do. They felt within the depths of who they were that encounter with him. They felt their sins being forgiven. Perhaps the diseases, their ailments had been cured. They saw that the touch and the hand of God was able to bring this transformation. But even so, as they gathered in that room, there was still a despondency because Jesus had risen. Yes, but he’d gone back to be with the father, and they felt so inadequate, so alone, so incapable of doing the things that they knew they needed to do.

(00:03:09) – That desire to share the gospel. That desire to share that love. How do we do that? How do we possibly speak about his love? You know, we’re all so shy and kind of think, well, it kind of works for me and it’s a good thing for me in my life. But how do I actually break that barrier and invite someone else into that life and into that goodness? And so as the disciples stood there, gathered in a circle or a few circles, just praying, caught up in their own thoughts, trying to to make sense, trying to steal the voices of their own inner demons just like us. You know, so often people ask me “father, how do I pray – when all it seems is whenever I go to pray, I’m filled with so many distractions.” So many other things kind of happen. So many other priorities are there. How do I push through that barrier? How do I actually encounter the living God? And as they’re praying, as some are praying at least, and others are mouthing the words again, just like us, suddenly this noise that they’re.

(00:04:28) – That’s a little bit hard to hear. It’s a little bit difficult to discern, but within the space of just a few minutes, that noise begins to grow, and they’re starting to notice that there’s a movement within the room. It’s not just that this noise is happening, but there’s also the feeling this wind is beginning to move and to swirl around them. There is this power, this energy that is there. And suddenly they realising that this isn’t just an ordinary prayer meeting, that something amazing, something extraordinary, is beginning to happen. And before long, that small wind is beginning to grow and the blowing begins to be more and more intense. And suddenly there’s this noise, this roar of the wind as it begins to swirl around the community, as they are overwhelmed by the power of this wind that’s beginning to be unleashed within them. There’s this tornado of energy, this tornado. The spirit begins to be unleashed within the community. And suddenly, within the centre of this vortex, there is this flame that begins to grow.

(00:05:41) – And this flame begins to then spread and move across the whole assembly. Because the Spirit of God is so democratic. The Spirit of God is available to everyone. The Spirit of God is open to every single person in the world, because every one of us has been created in the very image and likeness of God. God desires and longs that we all will know him. God desires that we might experience and encounter that love. And I imagine that when that fire began to fall upon that community. But some people were so overwhelmed that they were so aware of their shame, so aware of their sinfulness, so aware of all of the ways that they had denied Jesus while he was alive, that they’d fled and run away during his trial and persecution. The sun would have just fallen on their knees. Some would have begun to weep because that experience of God suddenly coming into our lives is. It can be just so overwhelming. All I am aware of is my sin, my unworthiness, that I can’t do this.

(00:06:55) – And suddenly he’s there. Suddenly he’s available to us. And that power and that energy is unleashed within us in such a beautiful, deep way that brings this healing, that brings this change, this transformation. Others would have been so overcome by the wonder of that that they would have just begun to laugh. You know, I’ve been at prayer meetings where people are just so overwhelmed by the Spirit of God being unleashed within them that this laughter begins to break out and it’s so infectious it’s slowly. Other people are also caught by that spirit of joy and wonder, because God is always available and moving in the way that we need God most, the way that that spirit needs to be present in our lives. That’s the way the spirit will come. And so some will begin to pray out loud, some will begin to sing, some will have new voices to be able just to sing the praises of God. Because God is always wanting to do that work. And so first we need to be open to that power.

(00:08:10) – We can’t give what we haven’t got. And so if we are to be an evangelising church, if we are to be the church that the Holy Spirit wants us to be, then first we need to be soaked in his presence. First, we need to spend time in the upper room, gathered in prayer to receive that gift, because the disciples didn’t instantaneously change; they weren’t transformed there in the upper room. Suddenly they’re outside. So something has happened as they pray and share and minister to each other within that space, before they then go out into the public space and begin to to speak the praises of God as they’re transformed, so they’re able to understand and speak these other languages, the languages of the heart, the languages that other people need to be able to hear. There has to be this exchange, this dialogue within our lives as we receive these words and allow these words the gift of the spirit to to change us and transform us, to be the people that God wants us to be and indeed pray during this Pentecost day, during this season of the Holy Spirit, that we might indeed let the love of God into us in a new way, that he can do that work, that we recognize our need of God, and that we make space for God to be present.

(00:09:39) – We don’t shut him off and don’t shut. Put up a wall and a barrier to say, I’m okay. I’ve got everything I need. None of us have got what we need because we all need God. We all need that longing. We will need that transformation, the gifts of the spirit that Paul speaks about today. Let’s indeed be the people that receive that gift, and let that gift slowly change us to be the church that God wants us to be. A church that is not dead and dying, but a church that is alive with the possibility that the spirit is able to bring about within our lives.

Scroll to Top