Here is my homily for the past weekend. May God bless each of you richly.
Pentecost Sunday – Cycle A, 2014
Acts 2: 1-11; 1 Cor 12: 3b -7, 12-13; Jn 20: 19-23
June 7/8, 2014
Bonjour! Guten Abend (Morgen)! Buongiorno! Buenos Noches (Dias)! Good Morning! Today is Pentecost, the day in which the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles in that upper room where they were hiding in fear. The day that they became fearless preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, proclaimers of the core Christian belief that Jesus Christ lived, suffered, died and rose again so everyone may receive the gift of salvation and right relationship with God. Today is the day that the Church was born, the day of the first evangelization!
In the Gospel for today, we hear powerful words being used to describe the Holy Spirit’s movement, effects, and actions. Words like, strong, driving, wind, astounded, amazed, mighty, fire, and confused. We hear the Holy Spirit being described as a gust of wind that shook the house as tongues of fire that came down upon them.
Who is He?
He is the Third Person the Trinity. He is invisible in his divinity, yet His work is visible and evident in our lives, and His effects on creation are unmistakable. The Holy Spirit is a divine person. He is a divine person just like Jesus is a divine person and the Father is a divine person. He is divine because He is God. He is a person because He freely acts and wills. He is God and has been from all eternity and will be forever. He is pure infinite love and wisdom. He is perfectly just and true. No one can compare with Him, co-equal with the Father and the Son in that mystery we call the Trinity.
What does He do?
Yes, the Holy Spirit is unpredictable. He blows where He wills; He takes you where He desires. You don’t see Him, but you do see His impact, you see His work, and you see His design.
Indeed, for many of us the Holy Spirit can be like a roaring wind, a wind we cannot see but we know has been there by the wake it leaves, by the changes it produces.
For others among us, the Holy Spirit may at times be a mere whisper, like the Old Testament Scriptures tell us, but believe me, He is anything but a whimper. The power of His whisper in our ears is amazing. The whisper of His voice is followed by mighty deeds of power and authority when we listen. We can hear the Spirit’s voice for He is always speaking to us. He is never silent.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem likened the Holy Spirit to rain. He said that everything that lives needs water. Water descends from the heavens, according to St. Cyril, in the form of rain. The rain today is the same as rain tomorrow. The same rain falls on all things, but it produces different effects depending on whom or what takes it in. Water has one effect on the grass, another effect on trees, a different effect for animals and humans. Water’s nature never changes, but its effects on the recipient changes. It is the same way with the Holy Spirit. He never changes His nature. He is the same today as yesterday and tomorrow, but His effects on us are numerous and often unique to our lives and our particular vocations.
Yes, we see Him at work in creation. All of creation respects the Holy Spirit. Even nature will magnify and expand when the Holy Spirit acts on it. Creation itself bends to the Spirit of God. When this happens, we call it a miracle. Miracles are possible because even the created world bows before the working of the Spirit. Mere men without previous knowledge of languages became fluent in foreign languages because the Holy Spirit worked a miracle in them, as we heard in the first Reading today.
We see Him at work in humanity, and in our own lives.
He prompts us to profess: “Jesus is Lord!”
He impels us to witness to Jesus Christ.
He confronts our fears.
He bends our wills.
He warms our hearts when they are cold and uncaring.
He heals our wounds when we are injured.
He strengthens our resolve when faced with a challenge.
He makes men out of boys and women out of girls.
He is the strength of the marital bond.
Because of the Holy Spirit there is:
Charity in the presence of hatred.
Joy when sadness threatens to overwhelm.
Peace when all seems at war.
Patience when feeling harried and pressed.
Kindness when rudeness has bruised.
Goodness when evil abounds.
Generosity when feeling stingy.
Faithfulness when tempted to betrayal.
Modesty in the face of sensuality.
Self-control when angry.
Gentleness in a harsh world.
Chastity when tempted by lust.
My friends let us bend our stubborn wills with the Spirit’s help. Let us heal each other’s wounds and forgive one another through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Let Him wash away our guilt and warm our chilled hearts! Let us live in the peace and joy that only the Holy Spirit can give!
On this day of Pentecost, we welcome the Holy Spirit into our lives, into our hearts. May He renew us, and send us forth, like He did the disciples of the early Church, to proclaim to the entire world that Jesus is Lord!