“I know the one in whom I have put my trust.”
Sunday 09 June 2019
It is reasonably apparent to us today that the community at large is losing its sense of trust in many of the institutions of our society. We can look at many areas of life and see where this loss of trust has occurred.
The Royal Commission into the Banking System has exposed to public glare the many ways in which these organisations have broken the trust of their customers. Even more pertinent for us is how the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has eroded the sense of trust that people used to have for churches and their role within the community. Politicians struggle to win the trust of the electorate, not helped by the mutual attacks they make on each other that the others can’t be trusted.
The question of trust arises for us today when we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus. The reason why the notion of trust seems to me to be so tied up with this gift of the Holy Spirit is that over recent weeks, since the feast of Easter, in the readings for Holy Communion each day, and in the readings for Morning and Evening Prayer each day, the Church has encouraged us to read from chapters 14 to 17 of the Gospel of John. And throughout those chapters Jesus has been reassuring the disciples that, after he has gone to the Father, he will ask the father to send an Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
The experience of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them on Pentecost is the fulfilment for the disciples of the promise that Jesus made. I think there is a real sense in which we can say that the events of Pentecost assure us that Jesus is someone we can trust to deliver on his promises to us.
That might sound to you like a statement of the obvious. However, I believe that the fact that Jesus can be absolutely relied upon to do as he has promised is a matter of great import for us. It means quite simply that Jesus is someone that we can rely on, no matter what, to be true to his promises of love and care towards us.
I guess what I mean is that, if we take the statement “Jesus is someone in whom I can place my trust unreservedly” out of our heads and place it in our hearts, it changes us radically as disciples. We begin to seek out Jesus’ way and not our own. Importantly, we don’t substitute Jesus’ way with our own and pretend that we are doing exactly what Jesus might want of us.
When we plant this trust in Jesus in our deepest selves, we make it possible to join with Saint Paul when he says in the Second Letter to Timothy: “I know the one in whom I have put my trust.”
“I know the one in whom I have put my trust.”
Look at the great work of spreading the gospel that Paul undertook because he was so convinced of this statement: “I know the one in whom I have put my trust.” Complete trust and confidence in Jesus produce great things within us.
So, Pentecost is the feast of the Church that should convince us that we can trust Jesus implicitly. As he said he would, he has asked the Father to send the Holy Spirit – the Holy Spirit who will be our Advocate, and many other things besides.
One of the activities of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus plain to us. Please consider this image of the Spirit as the one who makes Jesus plain to us.
Consider a cathedral sitting high on a hill overlooking a city. Perhaps some of you are familiar with the Anglican Cathedral in Newcastle in NSW. Consider how spectacular such a Cathedral looks when it is floodlit. With its prominence and the bright lights, it stands out in all its dignity for all to see for miles around. In like manner, the Holy Spirit is like floodlights. The lights themselves are not really visible, just as the Holy Spirit is not visible, but the light they throw onto the building is what they are all about.
And so, it is with the Holy Spirit who does not draw attention to herself. Rather the Spirit floods Jesus with light that we might see and recognise him in our daily lives. The Holy Spirit is the floodlight that allows us to see the face of Jesus in each person and situation that we meet.
It follows that when we are able to see Jesus in the many and varied people and circumstances in our lives, we are living in the light of the Holy Spirit. The reverse is true also. When we fail to see that each moment and person in our lives is alive with the presence of Jesus, we are ignoring the efforts of the Holy Spirit to make us true disciples of Christ.
So this Pentecost, I offer these two points for reflection: 1) the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples at Pentecost and on us today is proof that Jesus is reliable; that he is the one in whom we can place our trust; and 2) the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us to shed light on our lives and allows us to see the face of Jesus in people and events we encounter from day to day.
Let us pray for the gift of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts on this Pentecost Day.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
And so, please consider these two questions in the week ahead:
1. How does the absolute trust that I can have in Jesus exhibit itself in my daily life?
2. Who do I know who desperately needs to be able to find their trust in Jesus, and how can I help them to do so?
Let us pray for the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Come, O Holy Spirit.
Come as Holy fire and burn in us,
come as Holy Wind and cleanse us within,
come as Holy Light and lead us in the darkness,
come as Holy Truth and dispel our ignorance,
come as Holy Power and enable our weakness,
come as Holy Life and dwell in us.
Convict us, convert us, consecrate us,
until we are set free from the service of ourselves,
to be your servants to the world. Amen.
Father Allan Paulsen