Ascension Of Our Lord
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: May 29, 2022
“I can’t believe the great service; look how often they fill up my glass!”
I remember thinking this the first time I went to a high-end restaurant for a business dinner many years ago.
They came and filled up the water glass, and I would take a few sips and before I knew it, somehow, magically, the glass was full again!”
I was used to going somewhere and you get a glass of water (or you get your own) and one glass is all you get.
But this new experience, really made me appreciate attentiveness and the importance of service and a great wait staff.
So, you may ask, Deacon Tom, what does the filling up of a water glass and great waiters possibly have to do with the readings this week?
And I would say that there are similarities between how the Holy Spirit acts in our lives, and how the water glass gets filled, and how that should inspire us in our spiritual lives.
Remember that Christ says at the Last Supper that he came to serve, not to be served; and that we are to do unto others as Jesus taught us to do, following his example as a servant washing others feet.
The Holy Spirit can easily symbolize this love and service of others as the attentive waiter of the church, always looking, always ready to help, and always with love.
We see the Holy Spirit mentioned quite a few times in the readings today:
• In the first reading:
- Jesus we are told gave the apostles instructions “through the Holy Spirit” So, we see that the Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, was active in Christ’s life on earth, so we can be confident that He is active in ours also.
- We are also told, “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” and “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you”. This same promise is ours at our own baptisms where we receive the same Holy Spirit, not different, not less, but the same!
• In the second reading we hear so many wonderful things:
- “Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation”. St. Paul is praying to God for this wonderful gift to be given to the Ephesians and also to us.
- Paul goes on to say that the purpose of the gift of the Holy Spirit is for four reasons:
i. With this gift we will have knowledge of the Father – truly knowing that God is our Father who loves us
ii. That our “eyes in our hearts” may be enlightened – this means that our hearts are to receive light and knowledge; why? So that we will know that we are people of hope because we belong to him, and we are not alone!
iii. That we may know the richness of our inheritance – we may know the gift of eternal life that is now ours, not through our efforts, but by the work that Christ did on earth in his passion, death, and resurrection.
iv. We will know what is the greatness of His power that will be at our disposal to live the Christian life. The same power of the apostles is ours, if we ask and if we are joined to or we abide in His love.
And finally in the gospel we hear again of the Spirit:
• And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; “when” you are clothed with power from on high.”, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost – again, the same clothing of the Holy Spirit at our baptisms and why we clothe ourselves in white.
• We also hear the reason for all this strengthening: The apostles and all of us will be Christ’s witnesses to preach the forgiveness of sins to the nations! Not just missionaries, but each and every one of us is called to be witnesses and servants in the faith!
The Holy Spirit I think has always been a little bit under appreciated in the Roman Catholic tradition, compared to the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
We need to be in awe of the Spirit, and to thank Him in all things like is said in the psalm – clap your hands, shout with joy, and sing songs of praise. Look how often the Holy Spirit is filling our glasses!
The Holy Spirit is involved in the sacraments:
• Blessing of the water and the child in Baptism
• Transformation of the water and wine in the Eucharist
• Anointing in confirmation and ordination
• Forgiveness in reconciliation
• Strength in Anointing of the Sick
• Glue that joins in Marriage
But that is only the beginning, we also have:
• The Holy Spirit speaking to us in the quiet moments of prayer
• The Holy Spirit who sends people into our lives to help us
And probably one of the most important things of all: the Holy Spirit who strengthens us, so that we be God’s witnesses in this life, to all those around us.
To witness means to testify or give evidence and comes from the Greek word “martus” from which we get martyr – witness to the point of suffering and even death.
We are God’s waiters and servants in the world, and we are called to witness by how we live and how we love – “truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did this to me.”
I love this beautiful poem by a Christian pastor that really highlights our role as witnesses:
You write a sermon
A chapter each day
By the deeds that you do and the words that you say;
People read what you write, if it’s false or true
Say, what is the gospel according to you?
We witness each day in what we do or don’t do; who we help or don’t; what we say or when we keep silent; what we post or comment online; in what we have done, and what we have failed to do. When we have filled another’s cup or when we have sat idle.
We can only witness to God’s action in our lives, if we have had our own cup filled. We cannot help others if we have nothing to give.
We must first ask for God to fill our unique cup with his unique gifts, encouragement, peace, comfort and gifts and talents.
We can then use this cup that is so full to then be God’s hands and feet, in answers to prayer, in being people who comfort and love; and to use the unique gifts given to us to build up the body of Christ in the world.
So think of yourself as God’s waiter, and getting ready to help and then to have your pitcher of water filled…I would ask you pray the Holy Spirit prayer which I will ask you to do with me now.
Close your eyes and repeat after me:
Come Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of your faithful,
kindle in us the fire of your love.
Send for your Spirit and we shall be created,
and you will renew the face of the earth!