The first reading for Pentecost Sunday tells us what Spirit filled means. John begins his Gospel,“In the beginning was the Omer, the Omer was with God, and the Omer was God.” “Omer” in Aramaic means both “Word” and “Lamb.” Our Cathedral mural contains a figure representing the Omer, the Lamb, and the word of God. John continues, “What came to be through him was life…” Under the Lamb are the four rivers of life from the Garden of Eden. St. John continues, “To those who accepted him he gave power to become children of God…born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.”
In Deuteronomy 5:1-7, God had recently rescued the Jewish people from menial labor in Egypt, just as he rescued us from the menial labor and the poverty of 18th and 19th century Europe. He tells us, “The Personal Name, our Almighty Judge, made a Brit/Social Contract with us at Horeb. Not with our ancestors did the Personal Name make this Brit, but with us, each of us who are alive, here, this day… I am the Personal Name your Almighty Judge, who brought you out of the land of Egypt/Europe, out of the house of menial labor.”
The Jewish people did not choose their rescue. God chose them as he chooses us today. The Passover Seder expresses the Physical Presence of that escape, personal for each Jew. The Eucharist comes from the Passover Seder. It expresses our rescue through the Passion and death of Jesus, lived for the first time, each time. Rescue from what?Our second reading discusses what Spirit filled means. Hebrew and Aramaic readings of the second reading help us. “Ish” means fire and is one of the two words for a male. One word for male is Adam as man comes from the ground. “Ish” means man as having a divine spark, a divine fire within him. An Ish is a Tzaddic, someone who has the divine spark to go beyond the law.
God rescues us, but from what? St. Paul tells us, “The works of the flesh are obvious: porn, uncleanness, being a threat to self and others, and idolatry. The works of the flesh also include use of the pharmacy (the Greek word is pharmacy), grinding of teeth, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies…”
When Jesus rescued us, he rescued us from these faults. The Holy Spirit filling us means doing their opposite. These are love (welcoming each other into each other’s hearts as a community,) joy, tranquility, long-suffering, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control.” Hebrew and Aramaic words for hate mean grinding our teeth, which comes from being tense. Spirit filled means being relaxed and feeling tranquility in the midst of our long-suffering. When the Holy Spirit fills us, we become a community. We become what Yiddish folk call a “Mensch” and a Tzaddic. We go beyond the letter of the law to show the divine spark by fulfilling the spirit of the law. We become a family with Our Blessed Virgin as Mother and God as Father.
Jesus teaches us in, “The wolf of Gubbio, Legion, and the parable of the sower.” Beautiful soil is aerated soil. It is spiritual. It has air in it, making it soft, loving/welcoming others. It is joy filled, passing its joy to all animate life. It is long-suffering and kind in that it shares it nourishment with all life. It is faithful, trusting God to prove nourishment to replenish itself. This allows it to be gentle. It has self-control, knowing God will provide.
As we look for the perfect Tzaddic, we look at Joseph-the-Worker, earthly father of Jesus. Our Cathedral has a statue of him standing to the right of the altar, behind Father giving his homily. St. Matthew records of St. Joseph, “Joseph husband of Mary, a Tzaddic,unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.”
St. Joseph trusts the messenger. St. Joseph puts Torah with its mandates aside. He does what is right to save his wife, and show the divine spark. Before he knows who the child is, he wishes the best for his bride. This is Tzedakah. This is what Spirit filled means. If we have the fire, the Menschenheit, of the Holy Spirit, we will be Tzaddic. We will be soft in spirit/aerated, following the example of Joseph the Tzaddic/ the Worker.
As we look at our mural at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada, we notice the young family standing next to that Omer/Lamb of God. It is the modern American family, the family following the example of St. Joseph and striving to be community. Are we up to the task?