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WEDNESDAY HOMILY: The Holy Spirit Coaches our Interior to Fight

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT
May 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The battle against the powers of this world will not be won by Catholics who think that Jesus is going to come down and grant us some loud and ostentatious victory, but shows us the power of the Cross, the kind of power that knows an intimate love of one's enemy to pray for their conversion rather than win a shouting contest.

HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - The last time I got reassigned as a priest it was like attending my own funeral.  I felt like I was cutting out a big chunk of my heart and leaving it behind.

I identified very much with St Paul in the first reading, "They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him, for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again."

Jesus left too.  But St Paul, the Lord, a priest who leaves his assignment, even a Pope who retires early, all leave for a reason.  It is painful, both to the priest and to those left behind, but as the Lord said, "Unless I go, I cannot send another to you."

In a homily to school children, I explained it this way:  "What is this?" I asked as I held up a tiny piece of plastic.  "An SD card that goes in a camera.  You can stick it in an iPad and then post your pictures on Facebook or send them to your grandma."  These 10 year olds grasped it right away.  What if the presence of God was contained in an SD card and however wonderful it is to hold that card in your hand, it is necessary that it return to where it came from for the purpose for which it was created.  That's right.  Unless you place it in an SD reader and upload the pictures, you can't share it with the rest of the whole world.

This explained to 10 year old techno generation kids the understanding that Jesus had to leave in order to send the Holy Spirit.

Yeah, maybe a bit of a stretch, but they all got it.

The Gospel for today is Jesus' farewell speech.  It is his eulogy at his own funeral.  It is his plan not only for how the apostles should behave in his physical absence, but the daily mode of operation for the Church that does not enjoy his presence walking physically in their midst, but enjoys his presence super-substantially in the sacraments and in the power of his action in the world.

Jesus is not here in the way you might be before you computer or device right now reading this, but he is present within the soul that has received the Holy Spirit in a very powerful way.  In this way he is even more present in the Church because his Body, his very flesh can be present in the Holy Eucharist throughout the world to give life to all who approach him.

He is not visibly present to the senses but he presents himself to the interior of man to build him up from the inside out.  In this way, the Holy Spirit reveals Christ as a kind of interior coach, who doesn't deliver us from the fight, but rather fortifies us with his encouraging graces and blessings to show us how to engage the enemy to win.

The battle against the powers of this world will not be won by Catholics who think that Jesus is going to come down and grant us some loud and ostentatious victory, but shows us the power of the Cross, the kind of power that knows an intimate love of one's enemy to pray for their conversion rather than win a shouting contest.

For this reason, gay activists may be seen to be louder than an archbishop who prays for their conversion as they torment and accuse, such as Archbishop Leonard in Belgium who prayed silently for those who attacked him because of his exercise of authority to proclaim the truth about God's plan for a one-man, one-woman union of marriage.

For this reason, the scene of Kermit Gosnell escorted publicly off to jail is not necessarily a scene of victory for Life but an indication of how poorly Catholics have thus far responded to God's call to defend Life.

For this reason, the intimidation, bullying, and hateful intolerance that the Obama administration rails toward anyone who opposes its views on family life or really any view it has about anything, is an indication of weakness rather than strength, and a call for Catholics to fight with the stalwart weapons of prayer and penance to overthrow such tyranny.

Jesus' presence is the Church and in mankind's history is invisible, quiet, and perceptible only to those with faith, rather than a loud and proud show of muscle and mania.

How then do you focus on his presence if it is not easily accessible to a generation that is overly sensualized by unending stimuli and excessive focus on pleasure or ego gratification?

The Sacraments train us to "look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).  We strain to see Christ in the Holy Eucharist with the eyes of faith, that we may see him all around us at work in the Church and in the world for its salvation.  Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "We see Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, who teaches us to recognize his face in the poor" or as Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, "We practice tearing the veil away in the Eucharist to see Christ that this veil may be torn away to see Jesus in the face of every single human person."

Christ is not less present to the Church after ascending to the Father and promising to send the Holy Spirit.  He is more present, but his presence is revealed only to those who merit it by faith.

In this year of faith, let us seek the face of Christ, present in the Holy Eucharist, present in the face of every person, present in human affairs, even present in those who bait and hate the Church, that we may be given wisdom to respond with holiness not haughtiness, that by praying, fasting, weeping, and converting, we may win the victory that is ours by faith in the Son of God.

Our Lady is too the icon of the Holy Spirit's power and action.  For she, the humblest of creatures, wins the greatest of victories.  A lowly Virgin has overthrown the malice and arrogance of the ancient serpent.  She shows us how to seek the invisible face of Christ that we may obtain his eternal victory over evil.  May her prayers and intercession strengthen and fortify our inmost hearts to fight the good fight.

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Father Samuel Medley, SOLT, is a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and is based in Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom.  He speaks to groups around the world on Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.  Visit his homily blog http://medleyminute.blogspot.com or his blog on sexual ethics http://loveandresponsibility.org

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