Closing Mass for Women’s Cursillo
[Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66; 1Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21]
Over these last few weeks, our attention has been captured by the wildfires erupting in many parts of our province. It is particularly heartbreaking to hear of people evacuating their homes. Everyone understands this is necessary to protect life. At the same time, for the people impacted by the evacuation orders it means leaving behind what is precious to them, what they have worked hard to build, their places of both memories and hopes. Their worry and fear must be great, and we unite in praying for them and for their every intention and need.
In distressing situations such as this, Sacred Scripture helpfully reminds us that there is one dwelling that will never be evacuated. That dwelling place is the human heart, and the indweller is the Holy Spirit. In the passage given to us from Saint John, Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples, a pledge that was fulfilled first at Pentecost and then handed on through the Church’s apostolic ministry, as we heard in the first reading from Acts. Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit as taking up his abode in us: “he abides with you,” Jesus says, “and he will be in you.”
Here we touch the mysterious heart of the Christian life: what we have called throughout Tradition “the divine indwelling”. When the Spirit is given to us through the Church’s sacraments, he takes up his abode, his dwelling, in our hearts. And where the Holy Spirit is, there, too, is Jesus and the Father. The Holy Trinity dwells within us.
To his promise of the Holy Spirit, Jesus unites another: “I will not leave you orphaned.” He will never leave us alone, without his presence and guidance. In other words, God will never evacuate the dwelling that He has made His own in our hearts. In the heart of God, we are, each of us, of great value and infinitely precious. We know well that this dwelling, which each of us is, faces many dangers as we pass through life: such things as illness, substance abuse, broken relationships, family pressures, economic stresses, or disappointed hopes. The list goes on. Yet God will never abandon us, Jesus will not leave us orphaned. No danger, however great, will lead to God evacuating His dwelling.
In fact, the more intense the danger or serious the challenge, the closer does God draw near to us. As we face the difficulties and pressures of life, we can do so in the serene confidence that God will never evacuate us. By clinging in faith to God’s promises, we know that we ultimately have no need to fear. He will ensure that all turns out to our good, usually in very surprising ways, if we but trust that He remains always with us, always within us, and give all things over to Him and the power of His love. This is the reason for the hope we have, in spite of any and all difficulty, and Saint Peter tells us we should always be ready to share it with others.
You have gathered this weekend for Cursillo, a blessed moment for an encounter with Jesus Christ. The Cursillo experience is a wonderful opportunity to discover anew the love of Christ, and take both comfort and courage from the beautiful truth that he will never leave us orphaned, never leave us.
Within the experience of this love there is also a call that comes to us: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” Jesus says. We demonstrate our love for the Lord through obedience to all that he summons us to do. His commandments are summarized in the call to love one another. We are seeing such love in action right now in the firefighters, the first responders, and the countless volunteers who are stepping up to help those threatened and evacuated by the wildfires. Cursillo is a good moment to ask ourselves where the Lord is calling us to show charity to our neighbours and in this way demonstrate our love for Christ.
As we ponder the call to love one another, our minds today go to our mothers. On Mother’s Day, we thank God for the gift they have been to each of us. It is a blessed occasion to pray for all mothers, both living and deceased, and ask the Lord to embrace them in his love. In the selfless care they give to their children, they are a living example of what it means to fulfill the commandment of love that comes from Jesus Christ.
So, in our mass today, let us bring our mothers before the Lord in both prayer and thanksgiving. We also pray for our fellow Albertans threatened right now by the wildfires. As they temporarily leave their homes and businesses, may they always know that Jesus will never leave them. And, as we encounter Christ really present with us in this mass, may we all take comfort in the truth that, whatever the difficulty, God will never evacuate our hearts, in which He has chosen to dwell and reveal His power to save.
Most Reverend Richard W. Smith
Our Lady of Mercy Parish
May 14th, 2023