Pentecost Homily 2017 Year A:
Today is Pentecost. It’s been 50 days since Easter. Today we remember the first gift of the Holy Spirit, which inspired the apostles to proclaim the good news. I like the “Come Holy Spirit prayer,” which is fitting today: “come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.” The Apostles did just that if you stop and think about it. They certainly renewed the face of the earth. If it wasn’t for the Apostles none of us would have heard of Christ. They received the vocation, the calling, to proclaim the message of Jesus. And they received this vocation because of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is not too much to say that all Christian vocations have their birth in the gift of the Spirit. Whether a person is called to Priesthood, religious life, married life, single life, we are all called to holiness because of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
I was thinking a lot about vocations this week. Our diocese was blessed in that Saturday we had the priestly ordination of two men for our diocese. Father Eric Bergener and Father Dennis DiBennidetto were ordained by Bishop Rhoades at the Cathedral. So, all last week I was remembering them in my prayers. Then I had the chance to attend the ordination, and it was a powerful experience. I remember Bishop D’Arcy used to say that every ordination was like a little retreat. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a pretty powerful 2 hours. Especially for me as a priest, it was a powerful reminder of the gift of the priesthood, and the gift of vocations.
One of the most powerful moments of the ordination ceremony is the laying on of hands. This gesture is done in silence when the bishop places his hands on the hands of the man being ordained. The symbol is one of passing down. Someone laid their hands on the Bishop’s head, and someone before him, someone before him, all the way to the Apostles. It is a beautiful gesture and it is done in silence. However, after the Bishop lays hands on the men ordained, then the other priests of the diocese do so as a sign of their brotherhood with the newly ordained. During this event there is always a song sung: veni creator spiritu. Come creator spirit. When I was listening to that song this Saturday it gave me chills because I still remember that song from my own ordination almost 8 years ago. But, how fitting for this weekend: come Holy Spirit.
All priestly vocations come from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit moves within a man, inspiring him to priesthood. The Holy Spirit does the work of forming the man after the heart of Christ in the seminary. Ordination is one of the 7 sacraments, made possible and effective by the Holy Spirit. Then, after ordination, these 2 men will celebrate the sacraments, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the vocation to the priesthood is inspired by the Spirit, prepared by the Spirit, celebrated by the Spirit, and lived by the Spirit. It was a powerful reminder to me of my own need for the power of the Spirit in my life.
But, really, all vocations share this same reliance on the Holy Spirit. Every vocation is inspired by the Spirit, formed by the Spirit, and lived by the Spirit. No matter what vocation you are living in your life, you need to power of the Holy Spirit in order to live it out. In fact, all vocations have their root in a deeper, universal calling: we are all called to holiness.
I find it really comforting that we are all called to holiness, but that we are not called to be the same. The Apostles call to holiness was lived out in their unique calling. But, my call to holiness is my own special calling. Each of us is called to be holy, but in our own way. So, think about your own life and your own calling to holiness this weekend. What is the gift of the Spirit that you need to live it out? Today is your day. Call on the Spirit and ask him for that gift.
New priests for the diocese is a great blessing. Please keep praying for vocations. Pray that young people will have the courage to listen to the Spirit. A few chosen people in Jerusalem received the Spirit and made a huge impact on the world. Imagine what would happen if every young person of St. Jude accepted the Spirit and lived out their vocation with the same courage as the Apostles. Whether as priests, religious, married, or single, our young people are called by God to live lives of holiness to renew the face of the earth. So on this Pentecost Sunday we pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to be alive in our parish: come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.