Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sleeping giant

" What a great potential of grace lies dormant in the vast numbers of the baptised "
John Paul 11

This comment comes in a reflection on Baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit poured into the life of each baptised person. The words seem to contain both regret and hope. Regret that the gift has been given to so many and yet the grace it brings too often lies dormant; and hope of what great potential this sleeping giant of grace holds for the Church and the world. A recent piece of research suggests that in a number of countries religion is dying and will soon be extinct. There is grave concern about the future of the Church in Ireland and whether it can recover from a combination of priestly scandals and an increasingly influential secular culture. And yet there are many baptised people in these places, all gifted with the Holy Spirit. There are still a good number in our churches in England and yet if we are honest the tide is against us. In society generally and amongst the young particularly there is both indifference and outright hostility to religion. The Church talks about "youth" but, by and large, "youth" doesn't talk about the Church.

But, is it surprising that this state of affairs exists if, as Pope John Paul says, the grace of Baptism is largely dormant. What are the channels for God's transforming grace and power, if baptised Christians do not live in the fullness of the given grace and in surrender to the Holy Spirit. It is surely only the Holy Spirit working through believers who builds the Kingdom. We must remember the Parable of the Talents and the warning of what happens to the steward who fails to invest and to grow his master's wealth. There is such potential within us, such power available but clearly there are too many of us who are happy to receive but not to pass on, or who stifle the Spirit by indifference.

Now is the time for the sleeper to awake. We must pray fervently and urgently for the release of the Holy Spirit within us so that the dormant grace will flow into the world. Do you want to stand before God and explain why you buried his gift?