WWJD? A question asked by some Christians in search of guidance; “What Would Jesus do?” But it’s not a question that has ever appealed much to me. Jesus in the gospels normally avoids such attempts to pin him down (mostly because these are ‘gotcha!’ questions, asked in bad faith) and perhaps, were we to ask him, we would get a response on the lines of “I am more interested in what you would do.” After all, we have the Law and the Prophets and the Resurrection too, so surely we ought to be able to work things out the gist of things for ourselves. But that’s not all, we have something else; we have the Holy Spirit.
So, it seems to me unlikely that Jesus is going to pop through the door, or even into our heads to help us out, because he doesn’t need to, because he has given us the help we need already and it it’s this that we mark in this feast-at-the-end-of-fifty-days, Pentecost. The Holy Spirit does not actually descend each Pentecost since this feast, like Christmas and Easter, is how the Church takes the mysteries of our faith and breaks them down to be considered, prayed over, marvelled at, given thanks for and celebrated (a big feast is always a good excuse for a big party; it’s a pity we have reduced ourselves to only really doing this with conviction at Christmas).
At this Big Feast then, we marvel at the extraordinary gift of the Spirit, God’s life if you like, the love the Father has for the Son and which the Son returns. It’s not easy to picture in our minds; the Son is Jesus, of course, so we have the Gospels to guide our imagination, and the way Jesus talks of the Father helps our rather unimaginative human understanding. But how do we see someone’s love? We can’t, see it, but we can feel it, we know it. If someone is troubled or anxious we know it and it weighs on us; if they are happy it raises us up. Through Holy Spirit, though, isn’t just some feel good factor to make us sing and dance, it’s something much more demanding. The Holy Spirit is responsibility. We are no longer children waiting to be told what to do, or expecting that some grown up will come along and clean up the mess for us. Some people have responsibility thrust upon them at a frighteningly early age, sometimes we seem able to put it off for a remarkably long time, but sooner of later we must accept it in all aspects of tour lives. That is the work of the Spirit in us. We can be a bit scholastic and enumerate the long list of the gifts of the Spirit, or we can just say: be alive, be real, be responsible for ourselves and others, be loving, be loved, be the life of the Father and the Son. That doesn’t make us super human, it makes us exactly human and humans fail, and are forgiven, because God the Father of mercies sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.
Anyway, having got to the end of Eastertide, we can look forward to starting our cycle of celebration all over again; after all, there are only 217 shopping days until Christmas.