Bishop’s Letter: We are united by the Holy Spirit, a spirit of harmony

May 25, 2023
Bishop John Noonan hands the bread and wine to then Deacon Joseph Tran, presenting him with the chalice and paten at his Ordination to the Priesthood, May 29, 2022, at St. James Cathedral. (FC FILE PHOTO BY GLENDA MEEKINS)

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:

The apostles and people who came to believe in Jesus were very different. Some were fishermen or tent makers or shepherds; some were without any sufficient financial means; some were educated, some not. Jesus did not come to change them to be the same person. He loved them as they are, just as He loves you and me. He recognized that each one of them is thirsting for God’s presence in his or her daily living. Jesus unites them with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. With the anointing comes their unity and grounds them in God.

Our Holy Father comments on these words of St. Paul to the Corinthians, “Diversity and unity: St. Paul puts together two words that seem contradictory. He wants to tell us that the Holy Spirit is the one who brings together the many; and that the Church was born this way: we are all different, yet united by the same Holy Spirit … the people of God, shaped by the Spirit, who weaves unity from diversity and bestows harmony because the Spirit is harmony. He himself is harmony.”

The world in which we live and participate today is really no different from that moment of Pentecost. The disengagement of the people from God seems frighteningly the same person. For those of you who participate in the celebration of Mass, this disengagement can seem like it is about “other people.” Yet, we may be a part of the creation of disunity by our own thoughts, words and deeds. We may have forgotten that the love of Jesus is not only for certain people, or for people who think and act like we do. Rather, Jesus shows us by His attending to the people, that He loves each one of them and desires each one of them to love as He loves.

Jesus is present to us in the Eucharist, and we receive Him by the transcendence of the Holy Spirit each time we participate in the celebration of Mass. He remains with us that we live according to His Word. We receive Him as our spiritual food to be a Eucharist in our daily living.

God celebrates us as His perfection, knowing our differences. St. Paul says that these differences are manifestations of the Spirit. They are necessary for healthy and fruitful communities of faith. When I meet you, I hear stories of the Holy Spirit. I hear about your love of one another. I learn about the saints among you as you tell me about the mercy of this one, or the talent of that one. I am joyful to witness your celebrations of one another through, with and in God.

God is gift. Pope Francis says, “Our way of being believers depends on how we understand God. If we have in mind a God who takes away and who imposes himself, we too will want to take away and impose ourselves: occupying spaces, demanding recognition, seeking power. But if we have in our hearts a God who is gift, everything changes. If we realize that what we are is His gift, free and unmerited, then we too will want to make our lives a gift. By loving humbly, serving freely and joyfully, we will offer to this world the true image of God.”

During this month of May, we honor our Blessed Mother who bore the gift of unity, Jesus. Our Blessed Mother carries us to her Son that we might know through this gift of unity, eternal peace. We pray with gratitude for our earthly mothers who by their daily living and sacrifice present the transcendence of the Holy Spirit to us that we might speak as one through, with and in God. We pray for our newly ordained priests, Fathers Ángel García, Edgar Serrano, and Zachary Parker, that they will serve you as Jesus offers.

As the summer months approach, pray about the ways in which you present yourself to others as the image of God. Like the early Christians, be God’s ambassadors to preach the mighty acts of God! Pray the Liturgy of the Hours, volunteer to serve those in need through Catholic Charities of Central Florida or another effort through your own parish. Join me for the Eucharistic Pilgrimage: The Gift of Sacred Mystery at 9 a.m. on June 10 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Together, in our diversity, we will pray as one community of faith to know, love and serve God.

May we be the builders of God’s unity, to be a Eucharist.