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Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

At the annual County Rodeo, a cowboy knew he was in trouble when a raging bull came charging straight at him.  Just in time, the cowboy dived into a hole, but leaped right out again. The bull came back, madder than ever and the cowboy ducked back into the hole, only to pop out again. — He did this several more times, until finally someone shouted from the stands, “Hey, man, why don’t you just stay in the hole?”

The cowboy’s reply was succinct: “There’s a rattlesnake in there!”

     The election of a new pope is always cloaked in mystery, and only later do we piece together some clues as to how it came about.  The election of our present Holy Father, Pope Francis, is no exception. After his election we learned that in the conclave of 2005 (the conclave that elected Pope Benedict), Cardinal Bergoglio was a strong a strong contender  by the second ballot.  But, he pleaded with the cardinals to look elsewhere, because he (quote) “lacked what was needed.”  And so they did.

     Eight years later in the days before the conclave of 2013, Cardinal Bergoglio gave multiple interviews reiterating that he should not be considered a candidate, because his (quote) “gifts lay elsewhere.”  And that seems to have been his state of mind as the doors of the Sistine Chapel were locked and the conclave began.  And yet, just 24 hours later, when the white smoke appeared and the new pope stepped onto the balcony of St. Peter’s, it was CARDINAL BERGOGLIO –  POPE FRANCIS!

     What happened in those few hours between his heartfelt protests and his landslide election?  We’ll never know for sure, but a few weeks later, Pope Francis, gave one of his spontaneous chapel homilies which hints at an answer.

     “The Holy Spirit upsets us,” he said, “because it moves us, makes us walk, pushes us forward.  We want to calm down the Spirit, even turn back the clock, and that’s wrong!  It’s stubbornness, wanting to tame the Holy Spirit! — Resist the temptation,” Francis said, “and go with the Spirit wherever it takes us.

     I suspect that Francis was giving us a peek at the profound experience that turned his “no” into “yes.”  Pope Francis must have sensed that he’d been resisting the Holy Spirit! — So, with all his heart, he gave himself into the hands of the Spirit to be led into a future he’d never imagined, did not seek, and could not see.

     This TEMPTATION TO TAME the HOLY SPIRIT is with each and everyone of us – ALWAYS!  But, when God’s Holy Spirit (who is God’s strength alive within us – drawing us forward – never relenting – beckoning us to paths that we’ve never walked before) – we mustn’t BE AFRAID; we mustn’t RESIST.  Like Pope Francis, we must go with God’s Holy Spirit.  He’ll always be enough for us (because Jesus has promised us that he will).  And he’ll never lead us astray!

So, TRUST GOD’S SPIRIT – and never look back!