Pentecost Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

When I was a Jesuit novice I was sent on my hospital experiment to work with the Little Sisters of the Poor in St Louis Missouri.  I would eat my supper later in the evening because one of my responsibilities was to help feed the patients.  And so, after their supper, I would go down into the kitchen to collect my tray of food.  I think the Sisters gave the cook strict instructions, “Give John lots of food,” (I was the only novice to gain weight over their hospital experiment).  During my two months there I got to know the cook pretty well.  Towards the end of my stay, she invited me to attend a non-denominational church.  During the prayer service there was lots of speaking in tongues and people collapsing from being slain in the Spirit.  Many of us may find such religious expression a little uncomfortable or even strange (I have to admit that I located my emergency exits).   While it may be difficult for some of us, we shouldn’t feel uncomfortable because as we read in Acts it is simply a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  That being said, I thing if we focus on the speaking in tongues or slaying in the Spirit, in regards to the presence of the Holy Spirit, we miss the more important manifestation that is spoken of in this week’s Gospel.  And that is the transforming power of the Spirit.

Following the crucifixion of Christ the disciples were scared and in hiding.  For obvious reasons they didn’t want to be found, arrested, beaten or killed.  And so they hid in a locked room.  When the Holy Spirit came and filled the entire house where they were, and “divided toungues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each them,” the disciples were transformed.  No longer were they a scared group, but were now one body inflamed with Passion for Christ and propelled to proclaim the Good News.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the impulse to share this with others has not lessened in our own day.  Because the Spirit is God, God does not grow weak or tired. And so the Spirit that the disciples encountered is the same Spirit that is shared with us in our Baptism and brought deeper in our Confirmation.  The transformation that the Spirit offers is, in a way, dependent on us as well.  

The movement described in the passage from Acts is twofold:  the Spirit goes in and the Spirit goes out.  In order to receive the Spirit, we must, so to speak, make room for it.  We must allow ourselves to be transformed by God’s power.  We make peace with our fears and insecurities; we admit our sinfulness and need of Grace; and, we realize that the Lord is our hope.  When we make even a little room for the Spirit, the Spirit jumps at the chance and begins to lay down deep roots.  And when the love that is the Spirit continues its work of transformation we want to do one thing, and that is to share it.  Pope Francis writes “every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others… Life grows by being given away, and it weakens in isolation and comfort.  Indeed, those who enjoy life most are those who leave security on the shore and become excited in the mission of communicating life to others.”  And so Church the power of Pentecost with the reception of the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of the indwelling of God’s love.  And if we want it, and allow it, the indwelling of God’s love can transform and redeem us.  Our fears and insecurities will be tempered, our sinfulness will be muted and our love will flow from our hearts.  The Church community we desire to grow and the disciples we desire to be are both marked by the indwelling of the Spirit of love.  Without love our words and actions are empty.  With love they are full of life and hope.  It is for this reason St Paul writes in another passage, “The love of Christ urges us on.”  Le us be servants of the Spirit, let us be servants of love.

God Bless and Take Care!

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