Sir Isaac Newton is a giant in the world of science, and he is know for (among other things) setting forth his "Laws of Motion." Simply put, they say
1. Objects in a state of constant motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by another force;
2. The direction of a force is the same as the direction of acceleration;
3. For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.
I'm no physicist, but those are the laws in a nutshell. The main point I want to share from this illustration is that inertia is a reality to be dealt with - if you're moving, you're going to keep moving until something stops or redirects you; and if you're sitting still, you ain't moving unless something makes you move.
Recently, we received the feedback data from the parish surveys that we did back in the Fall. Many interesting tidbits have come to light. One that I want to highlight for us today is this: 86% of us in our Parishes have been Catholic since they can remember, or since birth; 14% have become Catholic later in life. Additionally, almost two-thirds of us have been parishioners for twenty or more years, and four out of every five have been here for more than ten years. This means, basically, that as a Parish, we really don't know more more than "what we've always done." We have a lot of inertia!
Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost - the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the early Church and upon us - marking the completion of the Easter season, and the beginning of the missionary Church. We should take note of what this feast day means - especially as regards our sense of inertia. Newton's Laws have to do with motion, action, and force; the Holy Spirit is all about motion, action, and force!
Jesus gives the Spirit to the Church to empower her works and to fill her People will a sense of mission and meaning. Imagine: Jesus today enters the Upper Room at Easter, shows Himself Risen, gives His gift of Peace, and breathes the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. That should be plenty, right? Wrong! Even after that marvelous event, the Apostles did what we do most of the time in church: they just sat there!
It wasn't until fifty days later - in that same Upper Room - when the Spirit rushed upon them, set them on fire, and drove them out into the streets of Jerusalem, where they began preaching to a wondering crowd. "They were astounded," and they marveled at the Word that was spoken to them: "we hear them speaking in our own tonguesof the mighty acts of God.” All the Apostles had to do that day was step outside!
But it took a force - the Spirit - that gave them the courage and to ability to share their relationship with Christ to the waiting world.
Friends, this same Force is present with us today. We who have been baptized have received that Spirit, have had it reinforced at Confirmation, and see it renewed every time we share the Eucharist. This is our Force, and it is what sets our direction and overcomes our sedentary inertia.
This is our task - together. As St. Paul says, "For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,and we were all given to drink of one Spirit." It begins in our souls. It constitutes us as a community of faith, united by the Spirit, who loves one another, notices one another, and encourages one another. With that sense of unity of Faith, knowing that the Holy Spirit is driving us, we can transform our community, our families, our lives!