By BR. JONEL B. DALIMAG
CICM Baguio City
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34.
1 Corinthians 12:3B-7, 12-13
JOHN 20: 19-23
“In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was formless and desolate… and the Spirit of God was moving over…” (Gen. 1:1-2).
In the very beginning, the Holy Spirit, who’s feast we celebrate today, was with the Creator of the universe, moving over His creation. As the 2nd person of the Trinity, Jesus was very much aware of this. Hence, he promised his disciples before He ascended to His Father, that He will send an advocate to be with them. The disciples did not understand this promised. Hence, they were filled with FEAR. They were scattered, discouraged, and some even did not see any point in staying together as ‘followers’ or believers.
In the very beginning of their faith journey after the death, passion and Resurrection of the Lord, they gathered together behind locked doors, in upper rooms, away from suspicions of the people, especially the Jews. However, as was in the very beginning when the Spirit was hovering over, Jesus appeared to the fear-stricken disciples and said to them: “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.”
The timing of Jesus’s ‘breathing on them’ the Great Holy Spirit was perfect. When fear and discouragement were slowly killing the HOPE and FAITH of the disciples, the coming of the Great Spirit awakened their zeal to proclaim the TRUTH. The timing was just a replay of God’s sending his own Son, the Incarnate Word, when human kind and all of His creation were in chaos and in need help/salvation. “It is in the unending love of God the Father at the time of creation, when we were created as who we are; it is in the unconditional love of God the Son, at the time of the incarnation and resurrection when we were saved from eternal death and sin; and it is in the continuous love of God the Holy Spirit who fills our lives, enlightens us and guides us, comforts us and strengthens us today” (Kateri Blog, June 7, 2020).
Yes, all of us received the Great Spirit since the very beginning of creation. Jesus’ breathing in the Spirit in us marks our send-off to continue speaking, in our own languages as well as the language of other people, TRUTH to powers-that-be. Many socio-political issues that affect the already-marginalized and abandoned poor sectors of the society, and those at the peripheries are now being orchestrated by those in power. Environmental abuses; state-sponsored massive displacements of indigenous peoples and poor people due to militarization, dam projects, etc.; injustices against workers, urban poor, and peace advocates, are happening every day. Let us not lock our selves in upper rooms and wait for a miracle to happen. We have already received the Advocate to be with us as we soldier on the speak Truth to power. Our Lord Jesus has already sent us: “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirt.”
Indeed, the Great Spirit, which we celebrate today, has always been with us. It was and is the energy or force that guides the continues unfolding of evolutions in our universe. “The Great Spirit is understood to be an empowering influence, embedded in nature itself, a transformative energy that awakens and releases deeper meaning and creative engagement with the web of life. The Great Spirit is an energetic spirit-force, transcending the personal, yet embracing and endorsing all that is unique to human personhood” (O’Murchu, 2012).
Let us be inspired by the indigenous peoples who have never wavered in their belief to the Great Spirit. “The spirit keeper is alive among the indigenous peoples. The Sacred continues to dance with them in their primal interconnectedness with all living beings. They have not overlooked their rootedness with the earth and have kept alive the spirit of the animals. They know how to dance with their fellow animals. They can imitate them. Their bodies are with the soil that binds everything that pulsated with life. Their bodies and the earth are one. They have not been alienated like modern human beings that arrogantly have appropriated and subjugated the earth. The indigenous peoples, like all the other species, impel us the change course, to shift from our greed to posses and stand above the rest and learn again to listen to the keeper of the spirit” (Bacani, 2016).
The moment we allow FEAR to dampen our hope and faith, we disconnect ourselves from the Great Spirit which may lead us to venture into superficial spiritualities, convictions and commitments. There is already in the Church symptoms of these superficial spiritualities in the form of too much emphasis on rubrical liturgies, outdated dogmas and canons, all at the expense of the movement of the Great Spirit in our churches. “We are not at home where the creative God what the indigenous peoples call the Great Spirit has birthed us, with all the resources at our disposal to grow and flourish, to evolve and become whole. Earth is our true home -in both evolutionary and spiritual terms” ((O’Murchu, 2012).
Because of too much focus on liturgies, dogmas, canons and clerical affairs (clericalism), we have lost touch of the Great Spirit that has been the driving force of evolution. Hence, God-Creator, thru the Word Incarnate sends us, once again His Spirit, which we now call Holy Spirit, to reconnect us with Him and with His creation. “Our social and cultural dislocation in today’s world is based on our alienation of spirit. We have lost touch with the spirit within and correspondingly with the spiritual power that surrounds us. We are out of tune with the fundamental nature of life, our own and that of the universe. We are haunted by a sense of ‘cosmic homelessness’, an uprooted and dislocated people torn and tossed by the superficial values of consumerism, progress, exploitation and insipid religiosity. And the more we try to rectify our problem – by anthropocentric interference, scientific certitude or religious dogmatism – the more desperate our situation becomes” (O’Murchu, 2007).
Let us go back to the genesis of our faith to drink again from the spiritual well that has nourished our ancestors for a long time. Let us not fall into the movement of clericalism. Let us rather recover and revitalize creation spirituality, with the help of the Great Spirit, in order move forward in our efforts to renew the face of the earth as we continue to invoke: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” Let us capitalized on the momentum fueled by Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ which puts to the fore of our faith our rootedness in creation: “Today, we seem to be on a more authentic ground in striving to discern divine reality (holy mystery) from within the workings of creation itself. When we begin to comprehend the mystery that is our cosmic and planetary creation, we do indeed detect a sense of depth and profundity. This is a new spiritual landscape where we are more likely to encounter what the indigenous peoples have long known as the Great Spirit, an enduring and living sense of Holy Mystery… The same Spirit who evoked meaning and beauty from the original chaos of creation is once more reweaving the patterns within the evolving web of life. Our spiritual attunement to that Spirit is probably our single greatest resource for the transitions we experience, and our surest guide to the future opening up before us. Under the enduring wisdom of that Great Spirit, we venture on” (O’Murchu, 2007).
Balik-Tanaw is a group blog of Promotion of Church People’s Response. The Lectionary Gospel reflection is an invitation for meditation, contemplation, and action. As we nurture our faith by committing ourselves to journey with the people, we also wish to nourish the perspective coming from the point of view of hope and struggle of the people. It is our constant longing that even as crisis intensifies, the faithful will continue to strengthen their commitment to love God and our neighbor by being one with the people in their dreams and aspirations. The Title of the Lectionary Reflection would be Balik –Tanaw , isang PAGNINILAY . It is about looking back (balik) or revisiting the narratives and stories from the Biblical text and seeing, reading, and reflecting on these with the current context (tanaw).