While reflecting on the Gospel and the homily, my dear friend Kath buzzed a question about yoga and the new age movement. I shared with her what I know, based on my experiences before, while trying to learn about other religions and movements. This question popped up at the moment when I was seeking guidance to start writing these initial sentences. Then it came into my mind and heart that the Holy Spirit has just shared the inspirational spark.
Since the time the Church was founded, it has withstood countless persecutions, upheavals, desertion by others into other sects, scandals, and the like. Likened to a boat on a stormy sea, the Church has never capsized so to speak, even as the toughest trials rock it hard enough. Come to think about it, if this Church was only built by man, I don’t think it would have lasted this long. Point to the fact that it was (and will be!) in the stormiest of times that the Church has produced more martyrs and saints than in times of relative peace and quiet. In all, many have died and given their lives for Christ. As Fr. Armand would like to ask, “In your “church”, do you have as many martyrs as the Catholic Church”?
Pentecost Sunday is also called as the birth of the Church. Traditional interpretation holds that the Descent of the Holy Spirit took place in the Upper Room, or Cenacle, while celebrating the day of Pentecost. The Upper Room was the location of the Last Supper and the institution of Holy Communion.
It was on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son descended on the Apostles as a mighty wind (Acts 2: 2). God breathed on them. In the creation narrative, God breathed into a collection of soil and it became the first man. On Pentecost, God breathed into a group of people, the Apostles and other disciples, and it became the beginnings of the Church. God’s Spirit is referred to as the Soul of the Church, the power that transforms the Church, the Body of Christ here on earth.
From Jerusalem, Christ’s love, forgiveness and salvation were brought to our country by the Church. Faith has traveled the world and yet there are still countries today that need missionaries to share the Good News of Jesus. When I was in Nepal almost two decades ago, I met an Indian missionary priest serving there, and after Sunday Mass, he’d loved to re-tell that while there are more Catholics in the Philippines, their country India, has a better and more direct connection to Jesus Christ through St. Thomas the Apostle, who brought the Faith there (through the southwestern State of Kerala). Indeed the Church has gone a long way from the Twelve and the subsequent preaching of the other great missionaries. Needless to say, this is the Power of the Holy Spirit bringing the Church to what it is today. While there are so many trials and challenges, the Church has managed to survive the difficult tests and challenges, as Jesus has assured that He will be with the Church “until the end of time”. Even when you start to think about how the Church navigated through the dangerous waters, the Holy Spirit has never ceased to amaze us. The Holy Spirit has always managed to re-create the Church even in its darkest moments.
As Jesus has warned us when He was still walking this earth, there will be a lot of “wolves in sheep’s clothing”. This is true in those times before and even now. In the present times, there will be people who will try to mislead us out of our Faith. As an example is the new age movement as I’ve mentioned earlier. It stresses on the self, rather than focusing on God. Or the enemy will try to dissuade us into our comfort zones, away from the missionary intent of our existence.
Let us be wary of the easy way to go about this earthly pilgrimage, as we have to be aware that the enemy will use a variety of tactics to bring us to another route, out of The Way of the Gospel.
As the Holy Spirit guides the Church, we also invoke the Holy Spirit’s protection to get us through this treacherous valley of death. We just trust and just have faith!