Friday, May 22, 2015

Gospel text for the Feast of Pentecost 24 May 2015

                                                                                                                                Tempesta   Pietro
John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15        Jesus said to his disciples, "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.
"I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But, now I am going to him who sent me; yet none of you asks me, `Where are you going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because they do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will see me no longer; about judgment, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.
"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
Reflection        Jesus said to the disciples, “(The Holy Spirit) will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Sixteen-hundred years later Ann Hutchison, the well-educated midwife and daughter of a dissenting Anglican priest apparently took Jesus’ words to heart. Hutchison claimed to have an “Immediate or unmediated experience of God’s Presence.”*  She was unswerving in declaring her religious experience gave her wisdom, discernment and certainty. No matter what other people said to or about her, Hutchison was steady as a rock in affirming her experience of the Spirit of Truth.
But it was the seventeenth century and women were understood to be the property of men. They were not to think for themselves nor speak their minds. So Hutchison and her family joined a Puritan community to journey to the New World. Immediately she began teaching that faith, rather than rigid adherence to Puritan rules, was the ticket to heaven and that individuals could and should read and interpret the Bible for themselves. Needless to say, the keepers of the status quo were outraged. 
Undaunted, Hutchison cleverly combined her midwifery services with her subversive, teachings, encouraging the people, who would gather when she arrived to assist at a birth, to “receive the Holy Spirit” the spirit of wisdom and truth for themselves. Clearly, Hutchison was challenging the authority of the Puritan Church by daring to believe what Jesus said, “The Holy Spirit will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Ultimately Hutchison was charged with heresy and she and her family were exiled from the Puritan community. 
What if we took seriously our claim to the Spirit of Truth with us? How could we be sure we were acting in accord with the Spirit of Truth rather than the impulse of our emotions? This is a question of discernment.
When we experience emotional impulse it is unsettling as storming ocean waves, volatile as a fire on a windy day. When we experience Spiritual Truth it is steady and unchanging as the mountains, calm as the surface of a pool of water on a windless day. Emotional impulse is accompanied by un-ease and disharmony. Spiritual Truth is accompanied by peace and harmony. The key to discerning emotional impulse from Spiritual Truth is peace, the peace that Jesus leaves with us, peace that is the steadfast companion of Spiritual Truth. 
*The Reader’s Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Houghton Mifflin Haracout Publishing Co., 1991.

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