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On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked,…Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” …And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven…”
Happy Birthday to you. Today we celebrate the Church’s birthday, and as we all know, the Church does not consist of brick and mortar but of flesh and blood – billions of people, living on earth and in heaven.
On this day, the most intimate followers of Jesus received the gift of the Holy Spirit and went straight to work, evangelizing strange civilizations and baptizing even stranger people in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. With the help of the Holy Spirit, millions of people converted and the course of world history forever changed. All the glory and honor goes to God.
What a difference the Holy Spirit has made in our lives and in the lives of so many others!
Now most of us have little difficulty in giving credit to the Holy Spirit for countless blessings received, countless inspirations conceived and countless decisions arranged. But I believe most of us may have forgotten to give credit to the Holy Spirit where credit is most desired: in bringing about unity.
It’s no longer I who live in me. One of the most difficult things in life is not being able to be someone else. I am I and you are you and together you and I are we. But the truth of the matter is: I will never be able to be you.
Sure, I can cry with you, laugh with you, hug you, understand you, and even love you, but I will never be able to be you. And if I decide to try, I risk ruining my life.
When people come into my office and tell me their problems, I can understand them and even relate to them. But when it comes to what they are going through…I cannot go through them. I cannot penetrate them. I can only imagine what they are going through, for there is a wall that separates me from all others.
So watch out, especially if you are a parent who is eager to live through their kid. You are on a collision course with your child, for you were never meant to be in your child! Parents should guide their kids, help their kids, encourage their kids and support their kids, but they should never attempt to live through them.
We were never meant to be someone else.
With the gift of the Holy Spirit, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (cf. Gal 2:20).
I can be another person! I can be another Christ! I can enter into communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Everything that is His can be mine and vice-versa. Every word I speak and every act I commit can be through Him, with Him and in Him. My life can be lived through Him, with Him and in Him. Even my death can be experienced through Him, with Him and in Him.
For this reason, the Church is known as the mystical body of Christ. Sure, it is made up of billions of members, but it remains one body. The Church is not simply a corporation. It is the incardination of Him.
Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and do the first thing the Lord commanded His Apostles to do: Whose sins you forgive are forgiven.
To live in Christ means to love. To love means to forgive. It’s that simple.
The temptation has always been to be someone we are not. The challenge today, and since the time of Pentecost, is to be the one we were always meant to be, since the very beginning of time.
Happy Birthday Church!
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