25th May. St. Bede

After the resurrection in John’s gospel, Jesus appears among the apostles and breathes life into the new community, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This is just as God breathed the Spirit over the waters at the opening of the Bible to begin Creation. It is the beginning. But it is a beginning that what is created needs to remember. Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us that a Christian community is founded solely on Jesus Christ; it has to be a spiritual, spirit-filled community. As he says: However good or devout a Christian community is, unless it is focused on Christ, unless it realises its dependence on the Spirit, then it will always be simply a ‘human’ community. In the Spirit-filled community God’s word alone is binding; in the human, besides the word, people bind others to themselves. In one all power, honour and dominion are surrendered to the Spirit, in the other spheres of power and influence of a personal nature are sought and cultivated. However good the intentions of people in the ‘human’ community may be, with the highest and best intentions of serving, yet the result is to dethrone the Holy Spirit and relegate the Spirit to unreality. In the human community the strong person is in his element, securing for himself the admiration, the love or the fear of the weak, in the other everything is mediated through Christ and dependant on the Spirit. (Here Bonhoeffer is contrasting the Christian community that has remembered its dependence on the Spirit and the one he calls ‘human’ that has forgotten.)

As a Benedictine, St. Bede knew that the spirit of the community had to one of humility, as he showed right up to his deathbed, where he shared out his poor possessions, and in a Christian community only the acknowledgement of the power of the Spirit, that all is of Christ, can ensure this.

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