Armchair Christian

The late Cardinal Suenens quoted a French bishop who said: “We have the ability to create pipe water systems, to lay the mains but we cannot cause a spring to  gush forth.” Reforming and renewing the church and the parish and its structures is always necessary but we must remember that it is only to allow the Holy Spirit to flow freely and transform our hearts. The apostles were with Mary and locked away in the Upper Room, full of fear, but when filled of the Spirit the doors were burst open and they emerged with the gift of speech so that people from many nations and languages could hear about the marvels of God.

Today we need to allow the Spirit to free us from fear and give us that gift of speech that allows us to communicate effectively with all among whom we live. In the Gospel for this Sunday Jesus says: “But when the Spirit of Truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth”. Lord let the Spirit lead us to witness effectively and powerfully to Jesus in a language and a way that others will want to listen to and understand. People’s lives and hearts will only be touched and changed by the Holy Spirit when we are willing to be effective instruments of his power.

I like the image that Pope Francis gives when he said that without the Holy Spirit we risk being just an “armchair Christian” who recites “a cold morality” without actually living out the Gospel. Do not keep the Holy Spirit a prisoner, locked inside your heart; rather let him “push” and “move” you to boldly bring Jesus to others and to be able to be patient under pressure.

Today we remember that it is the Holy Spirit who works in the Church, in our hearts, he is the one who makes each Christian unique, but united together as one family of God.

It’s the Holy Spirit who “opens the doors and invites us to bear witness to Jesus”, as well as inspiring people to pray and to see God as father, liberating individuals from feeling like an “orphan”, which is what the devil would like to see”.

On this feast of Pentecost, we need to ask ourselves the same question that Pope Francis asked. Am I keeping the Holy Spirit, which I received at baptism, locked inside my heart – like in a “luxury” prison – where he is not free to incite, inspire and explain Jesus words to the outside world?

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest