ANOINTED WITH THE SPIRIT: A HOMILY ON THURSDAY, FOURTH WEEK OF EASTER
A catechist was trying to teach the creed to a group of children. She felt the creed will be too much for the children to learn all by memory. So she decided to give a little part of the creed to each child. So, one child will say ‘I believe in God’, another one will say ‘the Father almighty’, and so on. One day the parish priest was visiting the class and asked the children if they can recite the creed. They said ‘yes’, and began to do their magic. When they got to ‘I believe in the Holy Spirit’, the child who was meant to say it did not come to class that day, so one of them said to the parish priest ‘Sorry Father, the one who believes in the Holy Spirit is not here’.
The articles of our faith is not something we can pick and choose what to believe and what not to believe. Of course we all say we believe in the Holy Spirit, but do we really believe in the Holy Spirit? We say ‘I believe in the in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets. believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church….’ What exactly do we say when we say this? When the people in the synagogue asked the apostles to speak to them, they believed the Holy Spirit would speak through them. St. Paul tells them how God had always been present in every moment of their history. He told them how God had always appointed people to act in His name. He told them how God anointed Saul, son of Kish as king. However, here we see that it is not enough to be anointed. Saul was anointed, but he did not cooperate with that anointing, so the Spirit departed from him. So we should be careful when we claim that God is speaking through us, while it is all our opinion. So, we need to always cooperate with the Spirit. Then David was anointed, a man after God’s heart. The difference between Saul and David is not that any of them was sinless. While Saul fell and remained there, David would fall and always confess his sins and God would forgive him. Through him came Jesus, the anointed one per excellence.
Jesus tells the disciples in the Gospel about two kinds of anointed persons. All the disciples were anointed, but one of them turned against Jesus. But for the rest, whoever listens to them listens to the Lord. There is a popular saying that out of every 12, there is a Judas. I will not consider that a rule of life, because it will sound as if God predestined anyone to go astray. But what that means is that in every group, there are people who go the wrong way. Sometimes you meet ministers and priests, who, in the name of being anointed, and in the name of God speaking through them, manipulate people and deceive many. Let us not on the basis of such few individuals stop believing that God speaks through His prophets. Even the faithful prophets are not beyound occassional mistakes. God speaks through the prophets, but they remain as human as ever. So, we should be careful of hanging on to every single word that proceeds from their mouth.
Whenever I preach, I try not to leave the pulpit. The reason is not because there is anything wrong with leaving the pulpit or even moving around. I have to remind myself that as long as I am standing here (at the pulpit), I have to just say what the Spirit is asking me to say. Once I depart from the pulpit, a lot of what I say is my own nonesense. Of course the Spirit can use us anywhere, but we should be careful of claiming that the Spirit is using us and causing all kinds of confussion at the end. This will bring us back to the days when the prophets spoke and the people believe the Holy Spirit is speaking to them. Otherwise, we can begin to pick and choose what to believe. Then we can say like the children ‘The one who believes in the Holy Spirit is not here.’ Of course, we should all believe in the Holy Spirit, who speaks through the prophets, who speaks through the Holy Catholic Church.