As most academic institutions welcome their respective communities for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit the world, Manila Archbishop Jose Cardinal Advincula encouraged students, teachers and non-teaching personnel to think of the reopening of classes as renewal of their bond to God.
As he delivered his homily during the Mass of the Holy Spirit for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila-Educational System (RCAM-ES) on September 6, Cardinal Advincula stressed that the celebration of this Holy Mass in honor of the Holy Spirit is fitting with the beginning of another school year, especially after COVID-19 forced to halt interpersonal academic activities.
“Dear friends, it has been our tradition to begin our academic year with the celebration of the Mass of the Holy Spirit. And it is quite fitting that we do so. Indeed, our celebration today offers each one of us the opportunity to renew our relationship with the Lord and with one another. It signifies for us a new beginning. The Holy Spirit invites us to renew our lives, to grow, and to improve ourselves,” he said.
The Archbishop of Manila focused his reflection on the experiences brought to many people by the pandemic which he particularly likened to the experiences of Jesus’ disciples before the Holy Spirit descended upon them.
“The coming of the Holy Spirit ushers in a “new start.” Recall the situation of the disciples. Recall that they failed to keep their promises. They were unfaithful to Jesus. They were scared. Judas betrayed his master. Peter denied him three times. And everyone else abandoned him. And so, the apostles needed to be forgiven. They needed to be renewed. According to John, they were holed up in a house and the doors were locked. Clearly, they were paralyzed by fear. They felt trapped and did not see any way out,” Cardinal Advincula recounted.
“But with the coming of the Spirit, the apostles were made to see that there was a way out, that there was a solution, a prospect for the future. Jesus came and offered to them his peace. He breathed on them and gave them the force of his Spirit. The closed doors were opened, and a breath of fresh air moved the disciples to go out and to proclaim “the mighty acts of God”, he added.
He also reminded everyone in the academic community that the reopening of schools should lead people to reflect on how the Lord is opening “closed doors in our lives”, most especially after the world is slowly healing from the crisis.
“Just as dealing with the pandemic does not only require medical, economic, and political solutions, but spiritual as well, so also our educational system in the time of crisis. We need the help of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. In giving us his Spirit, Jesus opens the closed doors in our lives. His gift of the Spirit is a gift of courage – to help us overcome our fears and to strengthen us, especially as we begin this school year,” he said.
He concluded his message with a call to everyone that despite everything that happened during this crisis, “mission must continue”, thus, the Holy Spirit “opens doors and invites us to go out, to be brave, to be bold, and to be zealous in living out our mission.”
The Mass of the Holy Spirit is held at the beginning of each new school year to usher and welcome student, faculty and staff as well as an opportune time to ask the Lord for His blessings and guidance for the work they do together. (Lem Leal Santiago/SOCOM-Binondo Church)