My notes for Sunday, February 15, follow below. For those who asked, the readings are those given in the Liberal Catholic lectionary.
Sexagesima (a Sunday whose name always invites a joke or two) brings us to a consideration of the Holy Spirit as sanctifier. In the Gospel (from Mark 12), Jesus tells us that the greatest commandments are to love God and our neighbor. However, we cannot force ourselves to obey these commandments. Love flows from a secret inner disposition that cannot be outwardly compelled, or it is no longer love. True love for God and for our brothers and sisters shapes our lives as the Spirit works in our depths, setting us at liberty and making us children of God. These commandments are closer to signs of the regeneration God is already working in us, rather than rules to obey, although there are doubtless times when acting “as if” we were loving can open the door to the reality. When this love is in us, changing us, making us useful to God’s purposes in the world, we are not far from the kingdom of God.
The Spirit’s work of love in us, and the imitation of Christ which is the living out of the same, does not make us into cookie-cutter Christians, or robotic followers of Jesus. Rather as the Epistle (from I Cor 12) tells us, there are diversities of operations, but the same God who worketh all in all. However widely varied the Spirit’s manifestations or gifts, they are given to each for the common good, to build up the body of Christ in which we all partake. As Bishop Lloyd Meeker liked to say, blessings are not given to us for us – but through us to bless others, and to others that they may bring blessings to us, in a grand exchange of grace. Each person and each community needs to watch for the Spirit’s unique gifts (which may not look religious at all), cultivate them, and find ways to bring them to the common table to share with others. Sanctification looks different in each person and in each community, but it is always love in action. May the Spirit brood over us, and shake us to our depths, making us secret agents of God’s transforming love, loose in the world.