I was doing some reading for this weeks confirmation course which was also about the Holy Spirit. I came across a paper from Cardinal Ratzinger who spoke of the Holy Spirit being love, he says the name love as given to the Holy Spirit is the key to Christian experience and at the same time interprets love concretely as “ecclesial patience.” Yes that means us as a church being patient.
I was fascinated by this ecclesial patience because it made a lot of sense. The disciples had waited for the promise of the resurrection, they waited for the promise of the Holy Spirit, and through their journey listened and waited for where the Spirit led them.
If we go through the bible and have a look at how many times God’s people wait I know there are plenty of examples. One at the very beginning of our redemption where Mary says yes to the spirit falling upon her and making her the Mother of God. The patience she showed in the invisible breath of promise felt in the movement of babe in her womb.
The other reading set for today from Romans speaks also of this holy patience which we are called to. This invisible clutching to the invisible, which is given form by the knowledge of hope. The hope that the church is founded on, which moves within us is Jesus Christ our Lord.
This invisible patience, hope, is what we are told to have in our hearts, and when we do not know how to articulate it, when we do not know how to pray in confidence, the Spirit does so on our behalf, all we have to do is be present and be able to open our hearts.
What we also learn from the Gospel is that the Holy Spirit is a gift that brings us into the union of the Father and the Son, Jesus says, “For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” this invisible love, the gift of love that sets fire to the world that groans in wanting for the love of God and His longing for us to be in that love too, His love given to Him.
This equipping love fills us what we need to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ, we can be confident that He is there always, we can call out in prayer, and when we do not have the words just be, just sit and want, He meets you all today and we can pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to come upon us and guide us, and help us to feel that love. In the confirmation course I say that we are embarking on an investigation of love because everything we do, to learn, to pray, brings us closer to Jesus and he gives us much more than we give Him, just wait in Him and be patient.
I thought this Holy patience was such a relevant learning to share today as we say goodbye to Kathreen as she proceeds on her journey towards ordination and beyond. I remember her saying that she didn’t know what to do in this time between finishing with us and starting her curacy. I believe that the answer is to wait in the promise that God has called you to, for the outpouring of the spirit that we celebrate today.
Jesus says, When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Faithful Lord give us the courage to wait in your promise and hope, lead your servant Kathreen to the hope you have set within our hearts, and lead your church in patient love.