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Mariano Rivera is one of the greatest closers in baseball. Allow me to describe his unhittable pitch. Take a golf ball and tee it up. Now grab a driver and swing away. Just about three inches before impact, the ball rolls off the tee. That is a Rivera pitch. So you are in the batter’s box. Rivera delivers his pitch and it is traveling straight, right for the heart of the plate. This is your pitch and you are going to hit it out of the park. Just as you commit with your most powerful swing, the ball changes direction and starts to drop before it arrives at the plate. You either miss the ball or break your bat trying. Mariano Rivera’s pick is worth a 100-million-dollar contract in the majors. Think if you could deliver a pitch like his. I heard that Mariano is a very nice guy and he probably would be happy to show you how he holds the ball and how he throws it. But Mr. Rivera will never be able to give you the muscle that powers the pitch. He could never give you the flexibility that provides the torque. He could never give you the nerve to stand on the mound in front of Yankee fans when the game is on the line. Mr. Rivera will never be able to give you everything you need to deliver his pitch.
Like Rivera, we all have qualities that are unique–my grandmother’s apple pies; my father’s spiral staircases, the builders who gave us Boston Symphony Hall. We all have special features which allow us to do things that no one else can do. Furthermore, we are not able to give those features to others. No one, that is, except God. God can give us everything we need to live God’s life. That is the gift of the Spirit.
When God appeared to Moses, Moses wanted to know God’s name. He said, “I am.” The name is fascinating because it is a verb. No one has a verb for a name. If my name was a verb I would like it to be “eat pizza.” Of course, that is not very original because everyone eats pizza. I should pick a verb that makes me different from others. So my name could be “reads ancient languages and dead dialects.” That is something that makes me different as well as a bit strange.
Let’s go back to God. You would think that God would have picked a verb that would have made Himself different from everyone else, but He didn’t. He picked a verb that anyone could have. Anyone can say “I am.” And that is the point. God did not pick a name to show how He is different. He picked a name to show us that He is like us. God can say, “I know what it is like to be born, to have a mother, to bleed, and to suffer. I, know what it is to be a servant, a shepherd, a king, a carpenter.
God is different from us in that He can give us what we need to imitate His goodness, unlike us.
I may go to our Lord and tell Him, “I cannot live Your life. I cannot forgive like You. I will never be generous as You. I will never preach like You, or help people in need as You.” He will say to me, “Yes you can; I can give you everything you need to live My life.”
“…and He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”Back to All Homilies