St. Augustine, the City of God, and Shalom Aleichem. Receive the Holy Spirit.”


Deacon Joe Bell delivered the homily at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada this Pentecost Sunday stating, he was raised Catholic but had at one time converted to the Pentecostal religion. He found he was not receiving the full fruits of the Holy Spirit and returned to our Catholic faith. The theme of his talk was, “Jesus told them, “Shalom Aleichem. As the Father sent me, I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.”

St. Augustine explains to us how God calls us to be a community of harmony and concord, not struggling and fighting with each other.

The Pentecostals put full emphasis upon the Holy Spirit, stressing the Spirit entering our lives causing us to see the white light of the Spirit, and speak in languages. Joe Bell noted there is something more mundane about the Spirit filled life missing in this understanding of the Spirit. He related how many ask how they can find the way of the Spirit in their lives.

English has two words related to the Spirit filled life. The first is vocation, from the Latin, vocationem “a spiritual calling,” from vocatus “a calling,” past participle of vocare “to call.” The second is profession, from, the old French profession, from the Latin professionem, “a public declaration,” from professus (profess). The meaning of an occupation one professes being skilled in comes from early the 15th century.

Joe Bell related how, if we want to find out how to be Spirit filled, all we need to do is find out what we enjoy doing. He is a schoolteacher. That is what he enjoys doing. That is his calling. That is his profession. That is how he is Spirit filled. Writers show we are spirit filled through our writing and our love of writing.

Deacon Joe discussed how the full reading of Jesus’ talk includes from Genesis 2, “He breathed on them saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus is breathing the Divine Spark into man just as his father did at the beginning of creation. The purpose is not for Christians to play harps and sing Halleluiah. The purpose is tending the garden. “Jesus told them, “Shalom Aleichem. As the Father has sent me, I send you.” Jesus sends us to tend his garden. We show our gifts of the Holy Spirit by the way we tend this garden.

“What it means to be spiritual at Pentecost” discusses how Jesus uses gardening to relate the meaning of  Spirit filled. The Spirit filled soil is soft aerated soil. Aerated is Latin for Spirit filled. The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts to tend his garden.

Deacon Joe Bell related the gifts of the Holy Spirit from Isaiah 11:2, “The Spirit of the Personal Name will rest upon him, the Spirit of talent, and building (people) up, being like a tree (soft on the outside which comes from bring strong on the inside) the Spirit of being a gentleman. (Gabriel means strength of God and being a gentleman. The idea comes from the knight’s code of honor.) The gift of the Spirit is also knowledge (assemblage of facts) a looking to God and a Spirit of looking to God.”

The fruits of this Spirit are love, joy, tranquility, long spiritedness, sweetness, and a loving heart, faith, hope, deep spiritedness and Zen. Galatians 5:22-23. All of these word to create concord in community. With concord comes peace. “Shalom Aleichem.” Spirit makes the soil soft, so all can grow and prosper, not a select few. The Spirit filled life is all about this. As God sent Jesus to promote this ideal society, Jesus sends us. “Shalom Aleichem. As the Father sent me, I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.”

In the City of God, Book 2, Chapter 21, St. Augustine quotes Scipio, the general who defeated Carthage. “As among the different sounds which proceed from lyres, flutes, and the human voice, there maintains a certain harmony a cultivated ear cannot endure to hear disturbed, but which elicits full and absolute concord through the modulation of voices unlike one another. Where reason modulates the diverse elements of the state, there is a perfect concord from the upper, lower, and middle classes. This is similar to the various sounds musicians call. In matters of state, this is concord, the strictest bond and best security of any republic…”

Section 2136 of Our Catechism relates, “The duty to offer authentic public service to God concerns man as individual and social beings.” We are social beings. Part of tending that garden is tending the needs of each other. Our goal is creating that harmony society calls concord.

Jesus tells his followers, us, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose failures you forgive are forgiven them; whose failures you retain are retained.” The passive voice allows the object of the sentence to remain ambiguous. If you forgive the failures of others, they are forgiven. In the second part of that sentence, it does say “them.” It does not say whose failures are retained.

We need to go to Matthew 7:1, “As you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” If we retain others failures, it is not their failures that are retained, but ours. Jesus, a Jew tells us, “Have I got a deal for you? If we want our failures forgiven, we must forgive others.

It is not just God’s forgiveness we are after. We are after the forgiveness of everybody who will be in the garden to come. St. Augustine tells us in Book 4 Chapter 15, “It is greater felicity to have a good neighbor at peace, than to conquer a bad one by making war. Your wishes are bad, when you desire one whom you hate or fear should be in such a condition that you conquer him. We see this has cooperated much in extending the empire, making foreigners so unjust that they became people with whom just wars must be carried on, and the empire increased.” We make foreigners unjust. They are not naturally that way. If we have a beef with our neighbor, we can be sure he had one with us first.

In the CNN Video “How to fix U.S. healthcare,” Fareed Zakaria tells Ali Velshi how 5% of the population accounts for 50% of all healthcare costs. The article, “Differences in income-related inequality & horizontal inequity in ambulatory care use between rural and non-rural areas,” explains how most of that 5% is the chronically poor and chronically ill. The article “Of Caesar and his Legion, big government and how to remove it” relates, if we want to get rid of the HHS Mandate, the easiest way to do so is to remove the need for the mandate, address the underlying issue, poverty and the chronically sick, before they become sick. By fighting the HHS Mandate we are in fact fighting the wrong fight at the wrong time. The fight we need to be fighting is the fight against poverty.

The article, “Barbara debates Ken about the sound of silence part II, relates how we failed over the past 40 years to pressure employers to pay a living wage. Instead, the article shows how using free market economics the percentage of income the poorest 50% of the population receives dropped from 27% in 1968 to 19% today. In the video, Fareed Zakaria points out that universally, market based healthcare plans cost more than government-run programs.

This rapid increase in poverty and the symptoms going with it required a mandate to address the need of many to access health insurance. The devil is in the details. Some secular people want birth control coverage, which we as Catholics oppose. We caused this fight through negligence. We caused this fight through negligence. We forced our neighbors into anger. Now we have the fight of the HHS mandate.

For St. Augustine’s orchestra to work, we must allow God to be the conductor, and we must strive for concord. We must strive for that society where all have what we need. The article, “Are you ready for some baseball in the Garden of Eden? discusses the game of life and this concord. When we play the game of life, the rules do not matter. We are too busy playing the game. When we stop to discuss the rules, the game ends, if only temporarily. God calls us to play the game of life. God calls us to Shalom Aleichem, As the Father sent me, I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit.” The choice is ours, fight and discord, or Shalom and Harmony. What is our choice?

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One thought on “St. Augustine, the City of God, and Shalom Aleichem. Receive the Holy Spirit.”

  1. Pingback: Of government mandated healthcare, what it should and should not cover « The stories of Curtis and Salvador

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