Fr John’s Reflection – Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday – 31st May

How do we fall in love?

I was particularly struck by some words from Richard Rohr in his book “The Naked Now”, ‘Authentic love is of one piece. How you love anything is how you love everything.’ (p127) What particularly struck me about this was it strikes me as being at the heart of the Gospel for this weekend. Those whose sins that are forgiven are forgiven those that are retained are retained. This constant challenge is presented to us in the Our Father. How we seek to love God is how we seek to love our neighbour as ourselves. This seems to be the non-negotiable element of the Christian faith. We are to be present to that authentic gift of the spirit which enables us to be lovable and loving.

So how do we enable this encounter in our daily lives? There is often a sense in which the Holy Spirit is considered a mysterious force than an encounter with a person. It is this ambivalent nature that causes us to relate more easily to a God who makes the rules or to a God who shows us how to live them out. It is much easier to see God as Father or God as Son. These two persons of the Trinity help us to understand images from our own life and upbringing. We live as a parent or as a child. Often we are conscious of how many of our relationships are grounded in these essential relationships. Yet the Holy Spirit allows us to encounter God on equal terms where God dwells deep within us. 

This encounter with the person of the Holy Spirit helps us to see how we have been gifted for the good of ourselves and the good of others. We are entrusted with a loving presence which allows us to be attentive and aware of who we are for others. This loving presence helps us to notice what brings life to our world and how we can be ever creative in the present moment. By becoming alert to what brings life to us and to others we notice how our world changes and is transformed. No longer do we seek to possess life but rather we surrender to life. This remarkable change enables us the freedom to be ourselves rather than some counterfeit image shaped by distorted seeking after love outside us. Once we recognise that we are both lovable and capable of loving our world changes and we become our true self. A person formed in the image and likeness of God.

Fr. John Armstrong