What’s The ProblemFr. Barnabas Powell
Recently I’ve been struggling alongside some dear friends, trying to get to the root of a systemic challenge in a community. In fact, this has become a full blown development of a strategic plan!
And I’ve made an important discovery that I’m sure won’t surprise you, but it has been a concrete revelation to me: If you always treat the symptoms of a problem and never its root cause, you’re only maintenancing an illness, not achieving a cure.
It’s like when we discuss issues of society or politics or even church challenges. Unless we do the hard work of getting to the root cause, we will always be frustrated by the results of our work.
This has been a focus especially this week as we approach Pentecost. The coming of the Holy Spirit on the Church marks another step God takes to get us to see the root cause of our challenges in life, love, and faith. In fact, all the work of the Lord in saving humanity has to do with the root cause of our problems (are you ready) – our alienation from our Creator. All our challenges, both big and small, flow from that root problem. Being separated from our Creator sets in motion all the maladies that pollute our lives.
So, how does the coming of the Holy Spirit mend this wound? Well, let’s look at it this way; we have to start with Who God is, and God is Uncreated. We are created. Right there you have a difference that simply can’t be overcome, unless…
In our Epistle Lesson today St. Paul tells the Hebrews that we Christians have a “a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself.” Hebrews 7:26-27. The whole purpose of the Law in the First Testament was meant to drive home this one revelation we have to accept if we are ever going to be healed: Our greatest need is to reconcile with our Creator. And the Enfleshing of the Son of God is the high point in that divine rescue mission to accomplish this reconciliation!
But what about the Holy Spirit? Well, the next step after the Son comes to destroy death for us is to so shape us to be like the Son that we are transformed into fit companions for our Creator. God didn’t just want us to live forever; He desires us to live forever WITH Him, and that’s going to take some reshaping, restoring, and remaking us into His Likeness so we will enjoy being with Him forever. So the Spirit comes to work in our hearts and lives to shape the character of Christ within us. Our inward transformation is accomplished as we cooperate with the Spirit given to the Church to drive out everything in our hearts unlike Jesus and renew and strengthen that which is like Christ in our lives! No wonder there are Kneeling Prayers at Pentecost! This is a cosmic undertaking that remakes the whole universe!
Today, as we approach Pentecost this Sunday, are you sufficiently aware of the present purpose of the Holy Spirit in your life to make you like Jesus? Are you actively participating in this transformative work by cooperating with the Spirit in the life of the Church through Her divine mysteries, prayers, disciplines, and witness to allow the Spirit to root out the real causes for your weaknesses? When was the last time you went to confession? Why not wake up today to the gift of the Holy Spirit and purposefully participate in the wisdom of centuries to renew your communion with your Creator. He’s moved heaven and earth to remedy our ills.