Jesus said, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days….No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Likewise no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
Today, God willing, I will be celebrating the Mass of the Holy Spirit at Ursuline Academy. This will be their 137th Mass of the Holy Spirit!
When I arrive on campus (that is, when I am on time!), I enjoy passing through the halls and looking at the pictures of past graduation classes. The sisters and lay volunteers have done a wonderful job archiving photographs and hanging them in the hallways. The pictures are a sort of documentary that records the very modest beginnings of a school founded by six religious sisters and seven girls, to a school of well over eight hundred students and graduates that have gone on to do great things.
One day, while I had some extra time on my hands, I took a closer look at the faces on the walls. As I moved from one class to the next I was surprised to see how different one graduation class looked when compared to previous years. I looked at the graduation year: 1944. This particular class of young ladies looked so serious - determined and strong. I asked myself why? It didn’t take long to figure it out. Tough times had sharpened them. War had defined them.
To understand the power of the Holy Spirit one must understand the divine power of Christ and of those who followed him. They did not let tough times disturb them. Christ did not come into the world when all was quiet, serene, and peaceful. In fact, he came into the world when the world, along with Jerusalem and all of Israel, was under siege! The same is true for the early Christians. They did not let persecution scare them. They did not crumble and fall away when the Jews and Romans hunted them down. If anything, they grew in numbers, in serenity, and in holiness.
Too often, actually, way too often, we let the weight of our mistakes and the high expectations that others have heaped upon us to crush us! God forbid you say something wrong to your friend! God forbid you do something that offends your best friend! It doesn't even matter if you had the best of intentions! But with all this said, I truly believe it’s easier than ever to be a saint today, because it is so much more harder to be human today! To be human today means you have to look perfect and be perfect. To be a saint means you can admit your limitations, your mistakes and learn from them so as to show mercy to those who admit them too. We don't have to be defined by our past mistakes or sins.
How liberating it is to be a Christian! “Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
We don’t have to be in control of everything. Christ did not force people to believe in Him! He stripped himself of his glory and power. He was not the Master of his own life, but he was the Master of the meaning he gave it!
That same power to rise above the occasion was given to the Apostles, and it has been given to you and me. For them, nothing was negative, ordinary or indifferent. Positive things became a reason for gratitude and joy. Negative things were an opportunity for abandonment, faith and offering. Everything became grace!
What kept them on track was the enduring example of Jesus Christ and an important question that had to be answered: Did I choose to love?
With this, I will see school in a different Light; friendships in a different Light; family in a different Light. I will seek not perfection, but the One who makes me a better person. I will not seek apologies, but the opportunity to forgive and to show compassion.
I will choose to love! And that is something new and good!