Running in the Spirit Towards the Light

holy spirit mass 2018

[Mass of the Holy Spirit.  ADDU Colleges. 21 June, 2018.]

Before the beginning of this academic year I addressed the assembled faculties of our ADDU and challenged them to greater intellectual engagement in the University mission:  we focused on improved teaching, but saw that this is not possible without deeper research and more effective service of the community.[1]  The challenge involves us all.

Our university mission, we know, comes ultimately from the heart of the Church, ex corde ecclesiae.[2]  The heart of the Church is Jesus Christ.

During the faculty assembly, we drew inspiration from a recently published document of Pope Francis which was designed to guide ecclesiastical faculties of theology;  it is entitled, Veritatis Gaudium, the Joy of Truth.   But we saw that it also had great relevance to us as a university, since universities are about truth.  Universities are communities of scholars and teachers who come together in freedom to search for truth.

For this Mass  of the Holy Spirit, I thought we could all take inspiration from the opening words of Veritatis Gaudium“The joy of truth,” Francis declares, “expresses the restlessness of the human heart until it encounters and dwells in God’s Light and shares that Light with all peoples.  For truth is not an abstract idea, but Jesus himself, the Word of God in whom is the Life and Light of man.”  We recognize the truth of these profound statements only in the Holy Spirit.  We call on the Holy Spirit today not only to help us comprehend them more fully;  more importantly, we call on the Holy Spirit that we may truly be part of its truth.

First, that we might comprehend the statements more fully: “The joy of truth expresses the restlessness of the human heart until it encounters and dwells in God’s Light and shares that Light with all peoples.”   We are not just talking about conceptual truth:  the certainty in our minds based on certain presuppositions that one plus two equals three, or that “for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction,” or that in the Bangsamoro the incidence of poverty is the highest in the Philippines.  We are talking about that which is beyond the merely conceptual.  Remember Kant?  He said rather than 500 Thalers in his head, he would prefer 500 Thalers in his hand.  Then, we are talking about our joy, not just conceptual but real, not just thought but experienced, and the joy is of truth.   Where is our joy of truth?  Remarkably here, the joy of truth is related not to the joy of a project in engineering finished successfully, nor to the joy of a well-defended thesis, nor to the joy of an insight into my compulsion to eat too much, but to the restlessness in our hearts.    “The joy of truth expresses the restlessness of the human heart….”  Francis says.

Hopefully, despite the pressures to succeed, to please my parents, my superiors, to be well regarded among my friends, to be “in”, to be admired, to be liked, to be important, to be successful, to be powerful, ours our still human hearts.  For hearts sometimes can be like stones, cold and unfeeling, not hearts of flesh;  they can be selfish, mean, and destructive of colleagues, bullying people dependent on me, and, tragically , harming even friends and loved ones.  But if our hearts are still human, Francis relates that humanity to a restlessness.  Without this humanity there would be no restlessness, but complacency, self-satisfaction, smugness.  In the restlessness there is an inner push, an interior vacuum, a quiet frustration, an interior pain of lacking that which needs to be acquired, of not being that which needs to be, a deep human sense of being at a loss, of being lost in darkness, because of not yet having encountered God’s light.  John the Evangelist refers to the Light which comes through the Word.  “In Him was the Life.  And the Life was the Light of men.  And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it”  (Jn 1:5).  Restlessness is humanity in darkness trying to comprehend the blinding Light… It is humanity stretching toward the Light “until it encounters and dwells in God’s Light and shares that Light with all peoples.”  The joy of truth therefore knows that “truth is not an abstract idea, but Jesus himself.  Not Jesus just thought in your mind, but Jesus the “Christ before us, Christ behind us, Christ under our feet.  Christ within us, Christ over us, …all around us Christ.”[3]   Jesus, the Christ, introducing to us the love of the Father as our redemption.  Jesus and the Father, sending us the Spirit whom we call upon specially at this Mass.   The Spirit is the joy of truth.  The Spirit is partial truth driving towards to the whole of truth.  The Spirit is our broken humanity seeking wholeness.  The Spirit is our human restlessness rejecting the darkness and seeking Light.  The Spirit is the joy of encountering that Light, even as it pierces the darkness of our world.  The Spirit is our restlessness in a darkened world, and our need to overcome it in Light.

Second, we call on the Holy Spirit that we might be willingly part of its truth.  “The joy of truth expresses the restlessness of the human heart until it encounters and dwells in God’s Light and shares that Light with all peoples.”  It does not discount us.  It includes us.  It embraces us in all of our intelligence, love and freedom.  It relies on the restlessness of our hearts, presuming they are still human hearts.  It is our hearts’ restlessness amidst the darkness of our world to find the truth, patiently, persistently and humbly, and through the multi- and inter-disciplinarity of our university service, to find that elusive lasting peace in Mindanao, to find that end to corruption in government, to find that way to thrive in our planet without destroying our common home, to find that compassion for colleagues in distress, to find the elusive common good, until we may abide in God’s Light and share it with all.  It relies on our hearts being willing to wash the feet of the people we serve (cf. Jn 13:14), to share the Gospel in season and out of season (cf. 2 Tim 4:2), and to be willing to die for the sheep who are lost (cf. Jn 10:11).  It is the Spirit that teaches us all things, reminding us constantly of all that Jesus had taught us (cf. Jn 14:26), especially that he had come “to bring us life, life to the full” (Jn 10:10).   This is “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,” Jesus tells us, “because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  But you know Him, for he dwells in you and will be in you” (Jn 14:17).

St. Augustine had a restless human heart.  He tried desperately to still that restlessness through excessive pleasures, false religions, philosophy, dissipation and distractions.  In a crisis of his restlessness, a passage from Romans struck him, “Let us walk properly as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy; but put on the Lord, Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” (Rom 13:13-14).  The passage talked to him, I surmise, because it described his frustrated experience and wasted life.  Suddenly he realized his restlessness was not quieted in anything short of the Lord.  In the end he knew, “Our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you.”  At work here is the Spirit whom we call upon to guide us throughout this new academic year towards greater engagement in mission.  Greater engagement in mission: not in intellectual pride and arrogance, not in smugness and complacency, not in isolation and intellectual self-gratification, not in meanness and cruelty, not in depression and despair, but in the Spirit running towards the Light.  “Let us run with endurance the race set before us!” Hebrews urges.  “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…” (Heb 12:1).

Our hearts are restless until they abide in your Light, O Lord, and share your Light with all people.

 


[1] Visit: https://taborasj.wordpress.com/2018/06/05/presaddress-june2018/

[2] Visit: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jp-ii_apc_15081990_ex-corde-ecclesiae.html

[3] From: Prayer for Peace, Himig Heswita.

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About Joel Tabora, S.J.

Jesuit. Educator
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