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Salvation

COME HOLY SPIRIT!

 There is a story told that the Pope wanted to find out which Religious Order in the Church had the smartest Theologian.  He invited three of the Orders to select their smartest member to answer one question.  The three Orders were the Jesuits, the Dominicans and the Franciscans.  The question the Pope wished to have answered was “How far away is heaven?” 

Well the leadership of the three Orders pondered whom they should send.  The Jesuits selected one of their men who had earned six PhDs and was a renowned speaker and author.  The Dominicans selected their top Theologian who was an expert on St. Thomas and his Summa Theologica.  The Franciscans selected a simple lay brother with just a high school education.

The Pope called the three Orders and asked them to send their representative to the Vatican with their answer to the question “How far away is heaven?”  The Jesuit with all of PhD’s humbly admitted that in all of his research he was not able to find the answer.  The Dominican confessed that he had researched all the works of St. Thomas and all the other Dominican Theologians and he was unable to find the answer to how far away is heaven.

The Pope looked and saw the humble Franciscan Brother and was at first a bit upset that the Franciscans would send such a simple, uneducated and unsophisticated representative for such an important and prestigious mission.  However, the Holy Father to be fair, asked the Friar the same questions he had posed to the Jesuit Scholar and the Dominican Theologian” “How far away is heaven?”

The Franciscan Brother answered: “Well Holy Father, it is really quite simple and the answer is right in Sacred Scripture.  Heaven is five days away!”  The Pope was shocked at such a quick answer and a little insulted at such a simple response to such a mysterious question.  But the Pope asked the Franciscan Brother to explain his answer.

“Well, Holy Father, in the Scriptures we are told that Jesus told his disciples when he ascended back to His Father in heaven he would send the Holy Spirit to them.  That was on a Thursday and the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples on Sunday, ten days later.  So it is obvious that heaven is a five days journey away as it took Jesus five days to get to heaven and then the Holy Spirit took five days to get back to the Apostles.”

Today we come to the end of the Easter Season which is fifty days after the celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord.  Over the past weeks we have heard many accounts of how Jesus spent time instructing and preparing them for his departure from their midst.  This group of rather uneducated and unsophisticated simple, common people was to be the foundation of a new Church, a new religious movement in the world.  We are probably a bit surprised today as we hear the transformation of this group of fearful, unsure followers of Jesus into bold witnesses and preachers of the Good News Jesus came to bring to the world.

We wonder at how with the coming of the Holy Spirit they were given the ability and the courage to touch people of all walks in life from many different countries, speaking many different languages.  ALL called to join together in worship and praise of one God.

That small group of disciples, empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit, laid the foundation for the Catholic Church that we have today.  A Church in every country and land in the world, ministering to rich and poor, educated and uneducated, people of every race, gender, nationality and social status.

This feast of Pentecost is a celebration of the past and the wonders of God’s grace that has been manifested down through the centuries.  However, it is also a celebration of the present and how God continues to manifest and share His presence and grace in our lives and the lives of others.  It is also a celebration of the future and our belief that that same God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit will continue to work and guide us in the days ahead.

The call and the challenge for us is to be open today to the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives as he did on that first Pentecost, and to inspire and embolden us to give witness to God’s presence and power in our lives, both as individuals and as a church community of faith.  “LORD SEND OUT YOUR SPIRIT, AND RENEW THE FACE OF THE EARTH.”

Fr. Carroll Mizicko, OFM

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