Sunday, May 24, 2015

The same Holy Spirit: Pentecost Sunday

(Listen to this homily here).

            As we celebrate Pentecost, we heard the powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.  There were tongues of fire.  There was a loud wind.  The building shook.  Those huddled in a locked room out of fear were emboldened and they preached in every language.
            This weekend I would like to make one simple point: the Holy Spirit, who worked so powerfully at Pentecost, is the same Spirit at work today.
            Since I arrived at St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Columban we have had eight Baptisms.  Actually, numbers nine and ten will take place after the 10:30 Mass.  Each of these children received the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of Baptism.  The same Spirit.
            We have also had ten Confirmations—four adults at the Easter Vigil and six of our high school students.  Now I didn’t see tongues of fire, but the same event took place as at Pentecost—the Spirit confirmed their faith.
            Or think about some of the recent blessings God has given our parishes.  I commend you for growing in joy.  Take a look at coffee and donuts—I know I will be joyful!  And it’s not from a chocolate donut!  One of our senior members of our parish recently said to me, “Father, we have our happy back.”  Praise God!  This joy comes from the Spirit.
             Or consider the ways in which we serve.  I have always been proud of your efforts here.  Whether it is coming to Mass at Good Samaritan, visiting the elderly, bringing communion to the sick, serving dinner at the Community Café, working in the Clothes Closet and the like, “there are different forms of service but the same Lord.”  Such charity is not possible without the Spirit.
            Finally, I am grateful for our growth in hospitality and welcoming guests to our parishes.  In the United States, hospitality is consider a nice quality—something good to practice.  But in Jesus’ time—in the period of the Israelites—hospitality was an essential virtue. 
            Last weekend I noticed a new person walk through the doors—this young woman may potentially be working in IFalls for a few months and stopped by for worship.  After Mass was done I put you all on the spot and asked her what her experience of our parish was like.  She said, “Father, I felt so welcomed.  Several people said hello and made me feel at home.”  Praise God!  Again, this is the Spirit at work.
            Now reflect on how the Spirit is working in your own life.  You are here at Mass.  You made it here on a holiday weekend.  Perhaps it took an extra tug from God to leave the lake or the cabin to come, but here you are.  You cannot come to Mass without the Holy Spirit first beckoning you.
            Have you ever prayed?  No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.”  Prayer requires the Spirit first moving our hearts.
            Do you love anyone?  God is love.”  No God—no love!
            Finally, let’s think about the Catholic Church around the world.  We have over 1.2 billion members worldwide.  In the last 2,000 years, no one has fed more of the hungry, clothed more of the naked, educated more students or visited more of the imprisoned or hospitalized than the Catholic Church.  This is fruit of the Spirit.
            We heard how the disciples spoke in many different languages as they proclaimed the Gospel at Pentecost.  The Catholic Church today literally speaks every language in the world.  This weekend, there is Mass in Germany in German, Mexico in Spanish, and many languages in Africa.  We literally speak every tongue known to man.
            This is all in addition to the ways God has worked through the Sacraments.  Billions—perhaps trillions—have been baptized, confirmed, fed by the Eucharist and healed through Confession and the Anointing of the Sick.  The Spirit is alive and well!
            Do you see this?
            The disciples in the upper room received the Spirit and now we are 1.2 billion strong.  There were far less in that room than in this Church.  Imagine what God could do with us if we are open to the Holy Spirit!

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