EPICLESIS: A HOMILY ON TUESDAY, THIRD WEEK OF LENT
During the consecration at Mass, the priest will begin by praying what we call the Epiclesis. It is a prayer of invocation of the Holy Spirit. He will say something like “You are indeed Holy, O Lord, the fount of all holiness. Let your Spirit come down upon these gifts to make them holy, so that they may become for us, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” At this time, the priest is not only praying that the Holy Spirit should come down upon the bread and wine. He is also invoking the Holy Spirit upon all those gathered in the assembly. So, when the Holy Spirit comes down upon the bread and wine and changes them into the body and blood of Christ, the same Holy Spirit comes down upon you and I to transform us into the image of Christ. This means that without the Holy Spirit, conversion and transformation is impossible. If there is any change at all, it will be in a negative way. Also, when we go for confession, the priest also invokes the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sin. He says “God the Father of Mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, has reconciled the world to Himself, and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you from your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” This means that without the Holy Spirit, forgiveness is impossible.
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks to us about His Body and Blood and we know that there is no Eucharist without the Holy Spirit. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that ordinary bread and ordinary wine can become the Body and Blood of Christ. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that ordinary people like you and I can do extraordinary things, that human beings like us can become supernatural.
We see in the First Reading, an ordinary person, who has become supernatural, namely Stephen. The reading began by telling us that he is filled with the Holy Spirit and this made him see the world from the perspective of heaven. He saw heavenly realities, while still alive. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that he faced death with such courage. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that he could forgive those who killed him. That is why we often say that ‘to err is human, but to forgive is divine.’ Indeed to forgive is divine because it is not natural to human beings to forgive. The human thing to do is to revenge. But when the human person has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, then he becomes like Christ and he becomes able to do the things that only Christ could do. If you are struggling to forgive someone, it is only natural. But pray to the Holy Spirit to come down upon you and transform you from natural to supernatural. Then you will be able to forgive. The one who keeps malice is human, but the one who forgives is divine.
At every mass, we invoke the Holy Spirit. We also receive the Eucharist. Jesus took our humanity in order to share his divinity with us. One way to know that we are sharing in that divinity is in our ability to forgive.