Mike Bayard, S.J., former director of Campus Ministry, delivered the following homily on June 8. It was his last mass at the Chapel of St. Ignatius before taking on his new role assistant for parish ministries for the Oregon and California Provinces.
A traumatic week in Seattle: three shootings-two men in Central District last Saturday; one student died and three injured at SPU; Early Saturday morning murder in the ID; All the result of gun violence.
Fitting on this Feast of Pentecost to take a moment of silence to pray for the grace of the Holy Spirit remembering those who died and were injured as well as praying that the Holy Spirit enlighten the minds of our leaders to find ways of curbing gun violence. Let us take a moment of silence and pray.
A classroom clock emitted a "loud, obnoxious beep" and flashed the word, "lockdown" in bold, red letters. Doors immediately locked, shades drawn, lights off; students hunkered down under desks and pressed themselves against the walls. Quiet, except for muffled sounds down the hall. Some texted family, "I love you," "I am ok." And other students prayed. Anxious and great fear gripped so many in Otto Miller Hall on Thursday afternoon.
Lockdowns have become the new normal. (SPU, UCSB, Newtown, Virginia Tech) We can so easily live in a state of fear, guardedness of our surroundings, and trepidation of stepping outside our front doors on a daily basis. Our lives put on hold. Locked Down!
Days after his death, the disciples disillusioned, blinds drawn in an upper room, locked down for fear of the Jews. Would they be next, as friends of Jesus, who days earlier-at Golgotha-had witnessed the authorities crucify their leader, mentor…friend?
And what would Jesus say if he showed up? Having abandoned him; shame and guilt dogged them. Locked down in their hearts.
What is it when we find ourselves disillusioned, fearful, locked down in our hearts?
What is it about the terror? The fright? The anxiety we can experience at different times in our lives that can paralyze our hearts; questioning and renegotiating what we hold dear?
The unknown, what lies ahead…
B. New positions
C. Less than desirable diagnosis
D. Loss of a loved one or a relationship.
And yet for weeks-in his Farewell Discourse-Jesus assures us we will not be left orphan. He promised the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, would make HER home in us. The Holy Spirit, the Paschal Mystery living in our hearts.
Death … the unknown…has no hold on us. Only life, possibility, freedom, healing, opportunity.
Can we hear his heartfelt words, "Peace be with you?" Do we have firm faith to allow Jesus to unlatch our locked down hearts, so that he can breathe his crucified and yet, resurrected life into us, so we might live??
The Feast of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, wakes us up; enlivens us, fans the flame so that our hearts glow with God's passion in the deep down unfamiliar and often familiar landscapes where we may find a new life we never dreamed we were worthy of…
The Holy Spirit whooooshes in inspires us to take up those great risks; new opportunities; helps us to decipher the often chaotic complexities of life; engages us with new possibilities…new frontiers…even if we move tentatively at first.
I am reminded of Pablo Neruda's poem,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
and open …
And in that opening? The Holy Spirit is at work and all is transformed, even things we can hardly even imagine.
All is transformed…from the chaos of our very beginnings, the earth, a formless wasteland, the Spirit of God swept over the waters granting us with light … life … goodness!
The Holy Spirit is at work when, in a backwater town, the Spirit of God came upon a Virgin, and conceived an impossibility within her…and with her, YES, she brings to term the One who saves us!
All is transformed…when, in a darkened upper room, in the tragic days after Jesus' crucifixion, the Holy Spirit ignites his friends with great courage to speak truth…to build a CHURCH founded on love, justice, faithfulness!
The Holy Spirit is at work when in the midst of the terrible tragedy at SPU, this SU community reaches out with cards and prayers with assurances of courage, kindness and love.
All is transformed when after four years of this Jesuit education, none of us no longer looks to ourselves first. No, we look outwards to bring the Spirit's counsel, gentleness, and love to those most in need.
All is transformed…when, in this Chapel of Saint Ignatius community, the Spirit of God comes upon these gifts (you and me, this community, and this bread and wine) to make them Holy so that we might become the Body of Christ for one another.
With surprise and often wild abandon the Spirit unfastens and opens our locked down hearts. She, the source of life; She, the force that energizes; She, the one that anoints us with courage, determination and strength so that we might freely, truthfully, courageously live our vocation in this world.
Jesus comes, stands in our midst and says, "Peace!"
Come, Holy Spirit, lover of the poor, the light of human hearts, the kind guide and giver of gifts, the gracious visitor who eases our toils, the consoler with cool grace and light in darkness, the warmer of our hearts and healer of our wounds, the gift of our joy.
(Photo provided by Patrick Howell, S.J.)