Pentecost Homily 2018:
Tonight, we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. In one way this is the end of something, the end of the Easter season. But, it’s the beginning of something too: the beginning of Ordinary Time. This is no accident. Ordinary time is the time of the Church. This is the time of the Holy Spirit, at work in the world. From the day of Pentecost until this moment, the Church of Christ carries out his work. So, as we head back into Ordinary time we think about the gift of the Spirit, and the whole Church prays for the gifts of the Spirit to be renewed in the Church.
If you get some time this weekend, reflect a little bit on the gifts of the Spirit. What gifts do you need to fulfill your mission, your vocation in this world? Let the Holy Spirit work through you to build up the Church and to reach out to the world in need. Let the Holy Spirit help you to walk in the way of Christ.
I would like to reflect a little bit on the Apostles. I know it can be easy to think of the Apostles as Christian Super Heroes. Like they received some super power by being bit by a spider or something. But, this isn’t true. They were poor, simple, uneducated, normal people. They were certainly not perfect. Yet, with the power of God, they did amazing things. The preached the Word. They healed the sick. They raised the dead. Amazing things. They carried out the ministry of Christ. This was all possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can do amazing things through the lives of his saints. The apostles allowed the Spirit to work through them, great things resulted. The same can be true of us. We can do great things, the Holy Spirit can make us great saints, if we allow him to flow through us and to work through us.
But, I think the story of the apostles can highlight a tension I can see at work sometimes in people. This is the tension between personal and public, between internal faith, and external expression of the faith.
First, just walk through the story. All the apostles say: even if we have to die with you, we will never deny you. Then they all abandon him. Jesus rises from the dead. They meet Jesus. They are filled with joy. They are filled with faith, right? Jesus is raised from the dead, they see him, they know him. So, what is the result? Do they go out and set the world on fire? Actually, no… they don’t. What do they do? They are waiting in the upper room, almost like they don’t have a mission. At this point they are certainly believers in Christ. They’ve seen him. They know he’s alive. But, they are pretty private about it. Then, the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they are empowered to carry out their mission, they break down the doors and tell everyone about Christ.
I think the same thing can happen to us sometimes. We are believers. We have connected with Christ. Through our prayer, we have come to know that Christ is alive. But, the faith was never meant to be a purely internal and private kind of thing. Our relationship with Christ is not simply something that lives inside of us and makes us feel good. Christ also wants every one of us to carry out his work in the world. Sure, we need that deep and internal love of God that allows us to be connected to him. But, we also need to live our faith out loud, we need to be able to share it. This is the way, walk in it. This means that our faith should live out in our lives. For the apostles, this was only made possible through the Holy Spirit. It will be the same for us.
We join in with the whole Church to pray today for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit made the apostles great saints. He can make us great saints too. Let us pray for the gift of courage especially. Life is hard. Can we all just agree that life is hard? That is certainly something I have learned by being at St. Jude. People have allowed me to be a part of their lives. I get to share the good times and the bad times. Life can be great and rewarding, but it’s tough. It was certainly tough for the apostles too. But, the Spirit empowered them to do great things. Come Holy Spirit and help all of us to be great saints. Help us to live our vocation. Help us to bring the love of God to this world. Give us the wisdom to know the path; give us the courage to walk in it every day of our lives.