Once upon a time, two college students go out on a blind date. Over pizza and drinks, the conversation turns to the question, “What do you do?” The young woman remarks, “Oh, me? Ohm, since I carry a heavy load of classes, I work part-time as a waitress. It’s a diner, so I see the same people everyday.” “They tip me well,” she says as she smiles. Since it’s her turn to ask him, she blurts out, “So, what about you, what do you do?” “Well, I don’t have as many classes as you. So, I work on a conveyor belt. I work at the end of the belt.” With an ebullient smile she asks, “Are you the buckle?”
The last few weeks of Easter converge on this day- the day of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. We know the word, “Paraclete.” But I’ve never had anyone come up to me and say, “The ‘Paraclete’ just inspired me.” Nor do people use the word, “Advocate.” How else can we speak of the Spirit? If you look at the Sequence of Pentecost, we sing,“Bend the stubborn heart and will, melt the frozen, warm the chill; guide the steps that go astray.” MELT THE FROZEN ~ WARM THE CHILL. Brothers and sisters, there’s the Holy Spirit!
In the words of St. Paul, “there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.” In other words, God is the one who calls all of us to MELT THE FROZEN ~ WARM THE CHILL in our own ways and personalities based on faith in the Risen Crucified Christ. But who said melting the frozen and warming the chill would be easy?
To illustrate ~ the other evening a friend posted a video for his friends to watch in FACEBOOK. It is from a Catholic organization that supports “Americanism” a word meaning “God-given values for our country.” They take a stand against the Paris Climate Control Agreement. So, I watch it and remark back to him that this organization does not substantiate any of their claims why people should not support this agreement. Now, why you or I should support the agreement is not the issue. The proof is in the eating of the pudding…and the pudding was flat. So, I texted him and told him that there are no back up facts in that video. And he wrote, and I quote, “Not my fault you didn’t watch it and are now commenting in ignorance.” This is my friend, and, what I receive is vitriol.
MELT THE FROZEN ~ WARM THE CHILL, I need a gift of the Holy Spirit when someone responds to me viciously.
In the New York Times, June 2, David Brooks writes about some of our government officials poisoning the world via the machismo virtue called, “compete for advantage.” It is the philosophy that “selfishness is the sole driver of human affairs.” But this is not true, he writes. He says, “People are wired to cooperate…have a moral sense…moral emotions.” And, we “are attracted by goodness and repelled by selfishness.” Brooks tells a story of a neighbor watching a young man stop his car, get out, and help an elderly woman shovel her driveway in the dead of winter. The neighbor woman wanted to run out and hug that man for aiding a complete stranger.
How do we follow the Holy Spirit and MELT THE FROZEN ~ WARM THE CHILL?
In the words of the Risen Crucified Christ, “Take in the Holy Spirit.” In Portland, when someone hassled a couple because they “appear Muslim”, three young men MELT THE FROZEN ~ WARM THE CHILL. For two of them, it meant their lives. The other was hospitalized. Yesterday, the universal Church celebrated the feast of St. Charles Lwanga. He and his young companions said no to the tribal chief because they believed in Jesus. They MELT THE FROZEN ~ WARM THE CHILL but it meant torture and death. Everyday, you and I have a chance to MELT THE FROZEN ~ WARM THE CHILL and we will pay a price for it. There are other ways to follow the Spirit. Put into action the gifts~ wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and awe of the Lord. When we immerse ourselves into these virtues, we MELT THE FROZEN FACE~ we WARM THE CHILL. And it takes courage.
What encourages me is that on the day of Pentecost they all gathered together in the upper room. There, together, they prayed. There, together, the flames fell. There, together, they spoke in different languages…including the Mother of God. There, together, they melted the frozen and warmed the chill because at the moment of Pentecost they became the buckle.
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.