Rev. Furumoto Misa
Proper 5, Year B, II Cor 4:13-5:1, Mk 3:20-35
Today is the Second Sunday after Pentecost. For the first time in a while, we see green color. We celebrated Pentecost two weeks ago, and last Sunday was the First Sunday after Pentecost which we also call “Trinity Sunday.” For two weeks in a raw, we remember the Holy Spirit, which does not seem to be very emphasized in the Anglican Church. We all know that God is in the form of trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is one, but He has three persons in Him. And yet, unless you come from Pentecostal background, the Holy Spirit is less known or talked about compared to the other two, Father and Son. Why is this? Because it is intangible. We neither see it nor hear from it.
God the Father is also invisible; no one has ever seen Him. But He speaks in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. Like in Genesis, He speaks a lot, and in today’s reading, He scolds with many words at the first humans, Adam and Eve. Even after humans were expelled from the garden of Eden, God spoke to the prophets, and His words were accomplished by His only Son Jesus Christ. We also know how to pray Him as the Lord Jesus had taught us. Although invisible, we kind of know what God wants from us. Not everything about Him can we know, but we have an image of this Father the Creator.
However, the Holy Spirit is so elusive and vague. What does it actually do? Well, we know what it did to the disciples two thousand years ago. Ten days after Jesus returned to heaven, just as it had been promised by Jesus, the Holy Spirit which looked like tongues of fire came down and touched each disciple. As soon as it happened, the disciples were all filled with the Spirit and began to talk in other languages. They were just so energized and happy and became so brave with the power of God that they went out to the world to speak about Jesus of Nazareth. Thousands of people were baptized in one day, and many churches were established. This is the event of Pentecost, and we celebrate it as one of the Christian three major festivals along with Easter and Christmas.
So, what is the Holy Spirit? How shall we understand it with our limited tiny brains? We cannot see it; we cannot feel it.
Today’s reading from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians gives us a hint. “We look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.” Here, Paul talks about human frail bodies. He says that our physical being is gradually decaying, yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day. He is saying that our spirit is more important than our bodies, and that we should not be discouraged or afraid of dying but we should live by faith and hope.
Here, Paul does not talk specifically about the Holy Spirit, but we know that he is filled with and enlivened by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the power to believe in God and give himself entirely to God; it is the power to hope that the kingdom of God will come, and it is the power to love one another as Jesus loves us. It is the power to live by having faith, hope, and love in God. We tend to think that we do all of these by ourselves. But no. We can’t do anything good without the power of the Holy Spirit.
Remember, Jesus said,“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” Do you see an image? Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. We are connected to Jesus who is rooted in God the Father. The Holy Spirit, just as the blood in our body, it is sent from the Father and the Son to each one of us running through the branches so that we can live spiritually, so that we can live the eternal life.
This is what Paul is talking about, I think. “We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Aren’t we worrying too much about what is visible but fragile? Aren’t we forgetting all about what is invisible but crucial and essential to live with God?
In today’s Gospel according to Mark, Jesus makes it explicit. When Jesus’ mother, brothers and sisters came to restrain Him for people were saying “He has gone out of His mind”, Jesus just replied without even meeting them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at the people who were sitting around Him and listening to God’s words, He said “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
True family of God is connected not by blood but by the Holy Spirit which comes from the Father and the Son. It is invisible but far more important than visible connection. Jesus says “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness”. This sounds scary but I think it’s true. Afterall, we can’t live truly without it.
In the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.