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Fr Billy Swan

Dear friends. These days, I am spending a bit of time with the children of 6th class in our local primary school as they prepare for their Confirmation later this month. I am more conscious than ever of the need to capture their imagination with a message that is radical and different. So here is that message for them and for all of us for this Pentecost Sunday. BE REVOLUTIONARIES! Dare to be different, dream big and do something beautiful with your life. But what does being a spiritual revolutionary look like? Here are four ways that the Holy Spirit moves us to become part of the revolution the world needs right now.

A Revolution of Holiness. Fight for the good, protect yourself from evil and never compromise with sin. Here is where it all starts, within me and you. We all experience a tension within us between good and evil that is a heritage of sin. As the Catechism states: “It is part of the daily experience of the spiritual battle” (CCC 2516). Love Jesus who loves you infinitely more. If I truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord, then everything in my life must be conformed to him. In the measure that it is, I become an instrument of unity and peace. If you believe Jesus is Lord, there is no sitting this one out. It’s a fight. And we’re all in it, all the time.

A Revolution of Love. “See those Christians how they love one another”. These words from the early Church writer Tertullian marvel at the newness of Christian example that contrasted sharply to the surrounding culture of cruelty and survival of the fittest. Here is the “revolution of tenderness” and the culture of mercy that Pope Francis never tires to promote. He points to the radical love of Christ that was both personal and social, leading to inclusion, forgiveness and the restoration of people’s dignity. This remains our mission today.

A Revolution of Truth. Jordan Peterson in his book ‘Twelve Rules for Life’, includes the chapter ‘Tell the Truth’. It is one of the most important rules of any life and any society. Any nation whose laws are not based on truth is destined to fall. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth. Becoming a revolutionary of truth means bearing witness to the whole truth, all of the time. The secular culture protects itself against certain truths that will undermine it. Our vocation is to keep telling the truth no matter how unwelcome it is. The truth might suffer but it will never die and always wins out in the end.

A Revolution of Example. Christians do not pick fights. We are not here to compete with anyone. Our focus is to live the Gospel on its own terms and to share the Good News. Our collective vocation is to offer the world a counter-cultural alternative, a set of values that are more humane, a better way of life, a joy that is the envy of those who are unhappy, a sense of belonging and community to those who are lonely, the gift of healing to those who are wounded and broken. Here is the power of example where Christian communities model an alternative way of life that speaks to humanity’s deepest needs.

The spiritual revolution that began with the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that was carried forward by his disciples after Pentecost, changed the world forever. How can this revolution be revived? By drawing from the spiritual power unleashed at the first Easter and first Pentecost. As previous generations of Christians did in their time, so we are called to active service today. It is a time to rise up and not to be afraid. Receive the Holy Spirit and become a revolutionary of holiness, love, truth and the example that will save the world. Come Holy Spirit and save us from apathy and mediocrity. Fan into a flame the gift of your life within us and to reach for the greatness for which we are made.


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