The Lord be with you. (Assembly responds: “And with your spirit.”) Thanks. But what does that mean? We’re about 2 ½ years into this “new” Mass language, and I still not totally comfortable with that response. The Lord is with my spirit but not the rest of me? The phrase, “and with your spirit,” still sounds clunky to me and awkward, but this week it kind of got me thinking: What is that ‘spirit’ the response speaks of. On one level, it is addressed to me, the presider, but on another level, it is address to all of us assembled to pray. What is the spirit, the energy, that I give out? What is that invisible but oh so real energy that emanates from us all? What is your spirit?
You know I heard a saying once that said, each time we meet someone we can either add life to them or take it away; we can either add life or take it away. I like that. It’s a statement about our spirit, what we put out into the world—a spirit that either adds life, healing, joy and peace, or a spirit that sucks the life and joy out of the world because of its negativity and anger. When we talk about Jesus’ spirit in this life, it was always bringing about healing and joy and community. People just couldn’t wait to be around him, to touch him, to hang out with him. People wanted to talk to him, to share their lives. Jesus had a healing, peaceful, joyful spirit.
When Jesus came to the disciples in today’s gospel, they were gathered in a spirit of fear, but he gave them some of his spirit and they were open enough to receive it. They received a spirit of peace and of forgiveness.
Today we celebrate exactly that continued gift of Jesus’ spirit to the Church and to all of his followers. Pentecost celebrates that we have be entrusted with Jesus’ own spirit—that same spirit that walked around this earth emanating from Jesus, calling people to him, healing them, offering compassion and forgiveness. The second reading today says that it will come out from each of us differently, Jesus’ spirit mixing with our own gifts and history to form a unique mission and spirit that is just ours. As Paul says, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” It is not mine to hoard or cling to, but to share, to give away as I have been given to. Just like in the first Pentecost, that spirit gathers people, comforts them, makes them feel like they belong even though they are Parthians, Medes, Elamites, or residents of Northwoods, Uplands Park, Pasadina Hills, or Bel Ridge. Jesus’ spirit that he gives us at our baptism and again this day communicates to others that they are loved and valued and precious.
We have been given this incredible spirit, the spirit of the Lord. It has been entrusted to the Church, to you and to me. I think it’s the great challenge of Pentecost, to realize the great spirit that we have been given and to ask ourselves if that spirit is coming through from our words and actions or if it is another spirit, perhaps a spirit of fear or anger, a spirit of greed or judgment that comes forth from us.
Indeed, when we ask that the Lord be with your spirit we are asking no less than for you to give out the energy that Jesus gave out. We are challenging each other to put out that same spirit of forgiveness and peace into the world that Jesus did. Is there a more basic prayer in all of the Mass than that: that the spirit of the Lord be in your spirit and in mine? What is your spirit? And does it match the spirit of Jesus that we have been given?
The Lord be with you. (The Assembly responds:), “And with your spirit.” Yes, indeed. And with YOUR spirit as well.