June 8, 2024

Acknowledge the Presence of the Holy Spirit


Father John Gerritts

Pastor's Weekly Message

Congratulations to all who have graduated this spring, including those graduating from college, high school, and the eighth grade.

For our high school graduates, a few of you heading off to college received help with your college tuition from our Knights of Columbus Council and Council of Catholic Women (CCW). Congratulations to Hannah Huntley and Lillian Johnson who each received a $1000 scholarship from the CCW and Bretton German and Ethan Hinz who received similar scholarships from the Knights. 

The past three Sundays we celebrated wonderful Solemnities in the church: Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, and the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus. While we have been in the Church season of Ordinary Time since Pentecost, it first now really feels like Ordinary Time on Sunday. In preparing a homily for this weekend, it occurred to me that I need to really focus on the readings. The past three Sundays all had a clear theme to preach on. There is no set theme for this Sunday- just the readings. 

I will be with the people in the Cameron- Chetek cluster this weekend. Chetek has many summer residents and tourists this time of year, like many of our parishes. Looking at the scripture readings for this Sunday, we hear a fair amount about evil and Satan. This could lead to a rather heavy homily, especially for vacationers and people enjoying a summer on the lake. 

However to completely avoid the topic is ignore something that appears regularly in the Gospel Readings and something that has been affirmed by recent Popes. Satan, fallen angels, the presence of evil, the reality of the demonic are things we frequently prefer not to think about and less to talk about. But there is no denying that Jesus dealt often with Satan, evil, and the demonic. There are many stories of Jesus casting these out of people. To deny this would put into question the truth of everything contained in the Gospels. 

One truth we hear in Scripture often is of the forgiveness that comes from God. This Sunday’s reading contains a bit of troubling news, that there is a sin that is not forgivable, “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven” (Mark 3:29) “Blasphemy” is to speak in a hurtful or insulting way. Why would Jesus say this sin is unforgivable? In short, blasphemy agains the Holy Spirit is to reject the one through whom forgives comes. We hear this in the prayer of absolution the priest speaks to us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, “poured out the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins.” 

Earlier in the Gospel reading we hear about division, “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Further, the Holy Spirit is so integral to our lives, that rejection of the Holy Spirit divides us from ourselves. We cannot be who God created us to be without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In other words we cannot stand. Unable to stand we can’t receive what is given us. It isn’t simply that forgiveness is not given to us by God, it becomes that it is a gift we have rendered ourselves incapable of receiving in denying the Holy Spirit. 

Summertime is a time we like to turn thoughts to what is good and pleasant. Speaking of evil or sin might be things we would prefer to avoid. But Jesus recognized that unless he got rid of Satan people would not be able to stand with him. Riding ourselves of sin, allows us to stand with our true Lord and Savior and united with Him we can receive all He has to offer.

Father John Gerritts

Father John is the Pastor at Saint Patrick Parish in Hudson, Wisconsin.