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March 15: Homily of Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of the Diocese of Imus

Opening of the 10th Province Chapter

 

            1 Cor. 12: 3-11

            Luke 4: 16-22

 

Theme: “Spirit-Fired, we risk with hope for mission…”

 

Dear Sisters…

 

In his homily on the Solemnity of the Pentecost last year, Pope Francis said – “The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gift of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward. He impels us to open the doors and to go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ. The Holy Spirit is the soul of mission.”

 

As you begin today your 10th Province Chapter with the theme – “Spirit-fired, we risk with hope for mission”, the words of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on the role of the Holy Spirit in your mission as Religious of the Good Shepherd are very relevant. You will spend days of prayer, discussion and discernment here at Maryridge to determine the desire of the Holy Spirit for the Philippine Province of your congregation. Be aware of the voice of the Holy Spirit in each one of you. But be more sensitive to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for the whole Philippine Province and for the Church.

 

The Holy Spirit, we all know assures the continuity, along history of the mission of Christ. “The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. This joint mission henceforth brings Christ’s faithful to share in His communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit prepares men/women and goes out to them with His grace, in order to draw them to Christ…”

 

The Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate concretely exists in history and particularly in our time by the work of the Spirit. From conception, Christ is anointed by the Spirit. In His Baptism, this anointing is shown in its truest reality: Christ is constituted as Son of God for us and for our salvation. He is the Messiah. He is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah that we heard in the Gospel.

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” The Spirit came upon Jesus of Nazareth and “anointed him,” above all for one thing: “to bring glad tidings to the poor,” in other words, to evangelize (Like 4: 14-18). It is this same Spirit who invites us, who invites you “to take the risk with hope for mission.” And you can accomplish your mission not individually but as a community, as a Congregation, as a Province. You have different gifts, but the Spirit is the same. (First Reading) “There is diversity of ministries, but the Lord is the same.” “Everything is the work of the one and only Spirit who gives to each one as he/she so desires.”

 

Pope Francis emphasized –

“Only the Spirit can awaken diversity, plurality and multiplicity, while at the same time building unity. Here too, when we are the ones who try to create diversity and other, we bring division. When we are the ones who want to build unity in accordance with our human plans, we end up creating uniformity, standardization. But if instead we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit, richness, variety and diversity never become a source of conflict, because he impels us to experience variety within the communion of the Church.”

 

As you risk with hope for mission after this Chapter, make sure that the Holy Spirit is with you and above all, you are with the Spirit. How?

 

1)    Prayer. The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles while they “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer.” (Acts 1: 14) The Lord Jesus said, “the Heavenly Father will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Lk. 11: 13)

 

2)    Obedience, especially in the sense of submission and adherence to the will of God. God gives the Holy Spirit “to those who obey him.” (Acts 5: 32) The Holy Spirit cannot act in someone who is still attached to his/her own will.

 

3)    Love. God speaks through love. The “breath” of God is a whisper of love. The one proclaims the good news must live a life of love. Love is the “warm breath”, the spiritual fire that transports the word, and we know that love is given through the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5: 15)
                                              [The Mystery of Pentecost, Cantalanesa]

 

Finally, always acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit in you, in your mission. He is your HOPE. “The Holy Spirit given to the Apostles as the Counselor, is the guardian and animator of hope in the heart of the Church. [John Paul II, Dominum et Vivifiantum, 66]

 

May the Holy Spirit be with you in this Chapter. May you be filled with courage and hope to follow the footsteps of your Mother Foundress, St. Mary Euphrasia.

 

Amen.