The second reading at the Mass of Pentecost tomorrow comes from the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians.
No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people, it is the same God who is working in all of them. The particular way in which the Spirit is given to each person is for a good purpose.
Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13
On the face of it the first line of the reading is open to easy contradiction. For most anyone can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ and not be under the influence of the Holy Spirit.
Paul though presumes that we will only ever say what we mean! And to say and mean that Jesus is Lord is to distinguish ourselves from the people of this world for whom earthly rulers are Lord, and from those others, Jews and non-Jews, who do not accept Jesus as Lord. This is a momentous statement, to say that Jesus is Lord and we can only say and mean it with the power and help of the Spirit.
Those who can and do say and mean it – we know – are of all stripes. There are Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants and all sorts; those strong in faith, those struggling and shaky. If the Church is comprised of all those who profess faith in Jesus as Lord (Discuss!), then the Church is a very eclectic body. It is the Body of Christ, but what variety is sustained by the Spirit as it places itself to a greater or lesser extent at the disposal of the Spirit, to grow more fully into the likeness of Christ.
- At Mass tomorrow gaze upon the diversity of the community inspired by the Spirit, gathered to give thanks to the Father in Christ.
Eucharistic Dove – hanging pyx. Musée du Cluny, Paris. (c) 2004, Allen Morris.