The world is watching the meetings between President Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy over lifting our national debt ceiling.  One day things seem optimistic, the next day bleak, the next day …. That is the way of negotiations: each side trying to get the better of the other.  Win/lose.  You had need to go into a meeting well prepared, even though the process and outcome may be unpredictable.  You are not sure what will be asked of you, what risks will be necessary, what personal buttons will be pushed.  No one ever wrote a book entitled: THE JOY OF MEETINGS.  Coming together may go no further than being juxtaposed physically in one place.  They were all in one place together.  When the doors were locked for fear of the Jews.

But the story of our lives is a history of meetings and encounters.  We were met with joy by our parents, met with support, love, correction and sometimes anger.  We weren’t allowed to stay in first grade forever, but moved into greater challenges.  We learned to discover our own potential and to see that potential as an inner possibility that needed to be realized, brought to birth again and again.  Our meeting with realities of life provoked and evoked that life and spirit within us.  We could be inspired by the originality of others to act out of our own originality.  Life is a testing of our spirit, making real the gift which only becomes visible in its being given and performed for some benefit.  The gift is given for all. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. The gift is simultaneously a gift and a task and responsibility.   A pianist or singer does not develop a talent, and then go and play his or her head off in a private room.  They usually thrive before an audience.  Not to test one’s potential or gift is to carry around unlived life as a miscarriage, potential life that never saw the day.  Even failure can be accepted and integrated into a deeper learning and self-knowledge of our real self. We can have the courage to show our wounds as places where we have exposed ourselves to life and love. He showed them his hands and his side. And perhaps courage is really the primary mark and sign of living up to our potential.

All this is to prepare and cultivate the ground for understanding the Church as the locus where humanity meets God.  The Church is an ecclesia, a gathering together, a koinonia, a communio.  Its assembling is already a response to the initiative of God.  First the noise, the strong driving wind, thunder, the numinous, the holy.  Then the gathering and amazement, the response. The Spirit becomes manifest in the effects it reveals, in its effective communication. The Spirit IS communion, communication. The source of the outpouring (no calculation or measuring or selectivity) of the Spirit is the meeting of the Son and the Father.  We are mentally and conceptually at a loss to grasp what the kenosis and separation of the Son means within the life of the Trinity.  Or why the Son had to return to the Father before the Spirit could be given.  This meeting is the Spirit.

This is the mystery we are invited to celebrate each day in the Eucharist.  It is the mystery meant to inspire and evoke that potential in us redeemed in and through the mystery of Christ.  The Spirit is the overflowing joy of the Father meeting the Son.  We catch a glimpse of this in Luke’s parable of the prodigal son (and father).  The Spirit adopts us as children by leading us into this eternal overflow of life and delight.  Vatican II has reminded us that the Father sends His Spirit into the hearts of the faithful to move them interiorly to love God with all their strength and to love one another as Christ loves them.  It begins in God, and becomes our life, purpose, and mission.  Our peace has its beginning in God’s life in us.

Christ sent out his disciples to proclaim the works of God, the works of peace, joy, and forgiveness.  We hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God. These are the gifts we have been given, the potential brought to life by Christ. We bear them in our lives and are meant to share the selfless abundance of the Spirit. We meet the responsibilities, sorrows, and surprises of life with the freedom of Christ.  We are called to the experience and appropriation of our own freedom, our own potential.  We discover ourselves as gift, not to possess or be possessed, but to inspire and call others to the gifts needing to germinate and flourish in their lives for the sake of the world.  When we truly meet, we pass through locked doors; we have no place we can call our own.