Mark A. Garrett, O.S.A.Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C)
Homily by Mark A. Garrett, O.S.A.

Habakkuk 1: 2-3; 2: 2-4
Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-9
II Tim 1: 6-8, 13-14
Luke 17: 5-10

Dinosaurs on television! Who would have ever imagined?! Animals and plants even older than dinosaurs - ancient seas, the continents of earth in a far different arrangement than what we know today. Stars a-booming, colliding, dividing, galaxies spinning off into space. Amazing what you can discover on television!

And then they show you how all these living things developed. And how they - suddenly! - came to an end. And, of course, when the dinosaurs, the great reptiles, died out, little mammals came to populate the earth - little mammals like - eventually - you and me.

What were the great forces that so changed the history of life on earth?

Two possibilities - so they say. It could have been some huge thing from above crashing onto earth -meteors the size of Connecticut, with great heat and fires. Or, if not something from above, that same kind of great, bright heat and fire from within the earth itself- bursting out into the open air, and transforming the face of the earth.

Some even wonder if life itself came to the earth across the great expanse of space. Maybe not - but if s good to remember that these great events of earth’s first eons and epochs are the events that brought about a world of life - life. If it were not for these happenings, dinosaurs may not have yielded their dominion over earth to us poor, little mammals. We owe our lives, our existence, to such fire and wind and flame and light - all somehow in the great plan of God.

When the author of Genesis began to write the first account of the world’s creation, what was in his imagination was a formless emptiness of water and darkness. “A great wind,” he said, “moved over the waters.” It’s likely that’s what he wanted to say; modem Bibles translate it like that, and they’re probably right - so great a wind that it seemed divine - or even god-awful, we might say.

But when the writers of the New Testament read that, they took it to mean, “The Spirit of God moved over the waters,” the Spirit of God’s creating power. They saw that event as the first movement of God’s Spirit in the world. All the immense power of the birthing events of earth - there it was: the Spirit of God.

The Spirit came on that occasion from outside the universe. In fact, the universe came to be precisely because that divine Spirit came upon the formless void, the emptiness of space. Far greater than any meteor, when that Spirit moved, a whole universe came into being.

For you and me there’s a difference. Yes, the Spirit of creation brought into being the matter and energy that, in due time, became our human race, and, in the course of humanity, little you and me.

But this is different: Not only has God breathed spirit into us at creation, but God has given us his own Spirit to dwell within us, to take up residence within us, at our baptism and confirmation.

That Spirit with its light and fire came from God into the world. Now - Christ promised it - that Sprit lives within us. That Spirit dwells in the world; we are his dwelling, his temple, each of us and all of us.

That Spirit that brought a universe into being - that same Spirit God has given us, to be alive in our soul, to live within us. The Spirit of God doesn’t move on the waters now; the Spirit of God dwells in the life and soul of us Christians. We are the way the Spirit of God dwells in the world.

The second reading speaks of this same Spirit which Paul passed on to Timothy when he laid his hands upon him and entrusted a new Christian community to Timothy’s care. For Timothy it is a specific spirit of ministerial authority - but we cannot just leave everything to clergy - for we have each received the Holy Spirit in our baptism and confirmation and it needs to be stirred up in all of us.

We shouldn’t even try to wait till our faith is greater - Oh, I cant do anything; I’m just me, just an ordinary Christian, Catholic. - More faith? What we need to do is use that faith we have! Stir it up! Bring it to life!

The prophet Zechariah [4:6] talks about moving “great mountains” - God’s Spirit removing a mountain of difficulties that were, at that time, standing in the way of building the Temple. The Spirit frees people from what’s holding them back: all their mountain of problems becomes flat land. The mountain is gone.

Same for the beautiful prayer of absolution the priest says in the sacrament of reconciliation: “God... sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.” To get rid of the mountain, rid of whatever keeps us separate from God, from building our lives into a Temple for God, into a place of prayer, worship, kindness, and joy.

If we stir up the Spirit that is within us since baptism and confirmation, we might indeed move mountains like that. We might remove - for ourselves and for others - all that separates us from the power and love and salvation of God.

Are we willing to do that? - to bring to life the Spirit that is within us?

That is the Spirit that moved upon the dark and formless waters at creation; that is the Spirit that made a universe happen.

And now?

Paul says to you and to me: “Stir up that Spirit that is within you!” Bring it to life! What will that bring about? What can that do?

The first time it happened, galaxies of galaxies came into being!

What will happen if we stir up that Spirit within us?

It happened again: The Spirit of God came upon the ones whom God had chosen: David the King, Micah and Ezekiel and Habakkuk the Prophets, and they were able to speak God’s word in the world.

What will happen if we fan the flame of that Spirit within us?

It happened again: “The Spirit of the Most High will come upon you,” said the Angel Gabriel to Mary -and Mary conceived in her womb the eternal Son of God, the divine Logos - the all-powerful Lord in the flesh of a tiny baby.
What will happen if we stir up that Spirit within us?

It happened again: The heavens opened and the Spirit of God came down upon Jesus in the Jordan River - and the Spirit and words of the Father showed Jesus to be the Messiah.

What will happen if we stir up that Spirit within us? What will that show?

It happened again: The apostles and disciples, confused and afraid, were all gathered in one place, and “suddenly like a strong, driving wind” the Spirit of God came upon them in tongues of flame, and they burst forth out of their hiding place and they - they! - set the world on fire - the fire of God’s love and salvation and a whole new way of living.

What will happen if we stir up that Spirit within us?

It happens still: We “cannot say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Spirit.” We heard the lector and the deacon proclaim God’s word; that word can only exist through the Spirit of God.

What is it we need to say? What will be said if we stir up the Spirit that is within us?

A word of forgiveness? A word of faith? A word of love? A word of encouragement? Of support? Of correction? Of commitment? Of empowerment? What word needs to come from us?

What will we do if we let the Sprit that is within us come to full life in our words and actions?

The first time a universe came to be. What will come to be in us?

Christ the Son of God came to live among us as human. Where will Christ now come to be if we stir up his Spirit in the world?

The apostles and disciples of Christ threw off their fear and spoke to all the world of the power of Christ. What does the world need to hear today from us?

...What will happen if we stir up the Spirit that is withinus?