Here's my homily for Pentecost speaking of the Holy Spirt and a type of discernement that Saint Paul lays out for us.
You can fid the readings on which this homily is based linked HERE
Wind is one of the most evocative of things.
So, not surprisingly its a popular subject of song writers
Blowin’ in the Wind, Dust in the Wind, Colors of the Wind, Riding the Wind, The Wind Beneath My Wings, Candle in the Wind...and on and on.
A force that you cannot see, but only by observing its effects, its energy.
It blows where it will, and it can blow for good or ill.
It can be a gentle welcome relief, or the force of a terrifying hurricane.
Not surprisingly the wind makes many appearances in the pages of Scripture.
The Old Testament uses the wind referring to God’s power
...and also negatively on the futility of human life and the impersonal forces that drive people here and there.
God spoke to Job “out of the whirlwind” and elsewhere we hear of “scorching winds”, “hailstorms”, and “driving winds”.
In the New Testament Paul speaks about believers who develop spiritual maturity as opposed to those who are tossed about and swept away by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery” (Eph 4:14).
James (Jam 1:6) compares “A person who has doubts” to be like a “wave that is blown by the wind and tossed by the sea.”
But there are two centrally important places where wind appears in the Bible, that transcends all of these.
First, we read in Genesis (1:1-2) that “In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth...a mighty wind (was) sweeping over the waters.”
...and we heard today in the Acts of the Apostles when at Pentecost, there came from the sky a noise like a “strong driving wind” (Acts 2:2) as the spirit came to rest on each one of those present.
For Christians these foundational passages, in Genesis and Acts, speak of God’s presence
...at both creation and recreation, of the earth and then of humanity.
For those present there on Mount Zion in Jerusalem that first Pentecost it must have been a mysterious and bewildering event indeed.
Jews from all over the Eastern Mediteranean gathered here together at this sound and heard of the mighty acts of God spoken of in their own languages
...so that strangers and foreigners could understand each other.
Church fathers and commentators down through the ages have seen in this mystery a reversal of the confusion that God had placed upon the people of old at the building of the Tower of Babel
...when God confused human speech in order to prevent them from cooperating in rivaling God by building a tower to the heavens.
So where God had confused the understanding of the tower builders to frustrate a project of human arrogance
...God made universally understandable the language of building the Kingdom of God.
Today we still have the challenge of discerning just which are the winds that blow for good or ill
...the wind of the Spirit or something else
...the projects of human arrogance or the Kingdom of God.
There are plenty of winds blowing and spirits loose and about in the land these days.
It can be genuinely perplexing to identify what is good and true so we can rightly align our lives on the path as Christian disciples.
How do we know what’s what, or who’s who?
Part of the Good News is that we are not left alone to figure this out.
John’s Gospel reminds us that we have an “Advocate” in the Holy Spirit, the “spirit of truth” to guide us in “all truth”.
In today’s 2nd reading Paul tells his friends in Galatia how they might be able to tune in to what is of this “Spirit”.
This isn’t a matter of the Spirit knocking us over, or having us speak in tongues or even interpret them.
It’s a matter of paying attention, carefully watching and listening and seeing what’s going on arounds us and within us.
This is how truth and goodness, and their opposite numbers are revealed.
Paul points to what he calls the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit, what the Spirit produces, as evidence of the Spirit’s presence.
What does what we do, or what we are involved in, or asked to support
...produce or encourage
...in us and around us?
Love, peace and joy OR hatred, envy, dissension, factions and conflict?
Patience and gentleness OR outbursts of fury?
Kindness and generosity OR selfishness?
Faithfulness OR idolatry?
Self-control OR licentiousness, and undisciplined indulgence of our various appetites and desires?
Of course there are other fundamental factors to consider
...like whether or not, objectively speaking, something is good or evil...and we have 2,000 of the Church’s teaching wisdom to fall back on to help us with those questions
...another sign that we have not been left alone.
But the types of fruit that Paul mentions can help us to see the truth of things
...and remind us of what Spirit we need to live inside of
...as we navigate the winds blowing around us and through us
...and work out what we are about in life and what we do with the time given to us here.
The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost reminds us of its great strengthening and consolation...but also recalls for us its challenges as well.