Sunday June 8, 2014: Pentecost Sunday Year A
St. Jospeh Parish
Cottleville, Missouri, U.S.A.
Acts 2:1-11 / PS 104:1,24,29-30,31,34 / 1 Cor 12:3B-7, 12-13 / JN 20:19-23
Today the Church celebrates the great feast of Pentecost. We celebrate that great day when, after Christ ascended to the right hand of the the Father, the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin huddled together in the upper room. It was on this first Pentecost that Jesus fulfilled the promise He made to not to leave us orphans.
In last Sunday’s reading for the Ascension we heard Christ’s commandment to go make disciples of all nations. Today we celebrate that day when Christ sent His Spirit to guide the Apostles in carrying out Christ’s great commission. After the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles their was a radical change in their life. No longer were they afraid but they went out and boldly proclaimed the great message of Jesus Christ.
The same Holy Spirit who descended upon the apostles at Pentecost descended upon you and I at our Baptism and again at our Confirmation. It was at our Baptism that we were adopted as sons or daughters of Christ and promised a share in eternal life. We were grafted onto the body of Christ. You and I, as members of the Church, constitute different parts of the same Body with Christ as the Head. As St. Paul reminded the Corinthians and reminds us today in our Second Reading, each of us has been given different gifts which are to be used for the benefit of the Body. The Holy Spirit works through each and everyone of us in different ways to make God’s kingdom present here on earth.
Since each of us has different parts none of us has all the parts we need and thus we need each other. This is why we need the Church, the joining of all of us together under our head Jesus Christ and the protection of the Holy Spirit. We, through our baptism are grafted onto each other and when we live out authentically our call as Christians, putting our gifts and talents at the service of the Church we are strong. However since we depend on each other, when we fall others in the Church suffer. Yet even amidst our many short comings the Holy Spirit provides the Church with all that She needs to carry out Her mission of leading all people to eternal life, we must use those gifts and cooperate with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
If we listen closely to the account of Pentecost, given in today’s first reading we see that the Holy Spirit did not just come to the individuals gathered in the room. No the Spirit came and filled the entire house in which they were in. So while yes, it is true that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in each and everyone of us it also important to remember that the Holy Spirit also came to dwell and remain in the Church forever. It is the Holy Spirit, fulfilling the promise of Jesus, that gives the Church life. It is the Holy Spirit who makes the Church the never ending fountain of Divine Life which nourishes us.
Before we ourselves can go out like the apostles and allow the Holy Spirit to work through us we must be nourished. If we want to be nourished, must frequently turn to the Church and receive Her sacraments, most especially the Eucharist and Confession.
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus give His apostles the power to forgive sins. Through the great work of the Holy Spirit in the Church that power has been handed down through the priesthood today in the sacrament of confession. Even when we fall short, our Lord, who has fulfilled His promise to not leave us orphans awaits us in the Sacrament of Confession to reconcile us to one another and the Father.
Do you want a true encounter with the merciful Lord? Do you want a true and deeper indwelling of the Trinity in your life? Do you want the true peace and joy that only the Holy Spirit can give? Come kneel before the Lord in the Sacrament of Confession and receive healing and forgiveness. Come receive true peace and a greater indwelling of the Holy Spirit in your life?
Our Lord, who fulfilled His promise to never leave us orphans by sending His Holy Spirit also fulfills the promise He left to His apostles in today’s gospel that any sin they forgive is forgiven. If you frequent the sacrament of Confession often, you can surely be a living testimony to the power of the sacrament, why not invite others to experience that power and peace? Maybe some of you have not been to Confession in a long time, why not come back? Whatever the sin is that you may have committed is no match for the mercy of God. Regardless of our sins, Jesus, in the person of the priest, is always waiting to forgive our sins. Jesus in today’s gospel gives us this great sacrament. Come receive the peace He has to offer.
Just three weeks ago I was sitting in Dallas on a layover hoping to be left alone I was interrupted by someone. Seeing me she asked if I was a Catholic Priest. After a quick explanation that I was a deacon but would be a priest in a year she unloaded on me. She told me she went to Catholic school as a child and wanted to believe in God but could not understand how God could leave us alone on this earth.
While someone could easily look at this woman and accuse her of a lack of faith, was her question not an honest, sincere and even on point question?With all of the suffering and violence in today’s world it can be easy to ask where is this action of the Holy Spirit that came upon the apostles and is promised to us. If the Holy Spirit dwells within me why are their times when I am not at peace. If the Spirit is active in the world, why is their so much war, poverty and destruction in our world?
Whether we recognize it or not the Holy Spirit is present in our world inviting all to come to true peace.The Spirit is ready, willing and able to change the face of the earth, we must simply ask the Lord to send out His Spirit and renew the face of the earth. We must frequently turn to the Holy Spirit praying Come Holy Spirit, and invite Him into our lives. We must daily invite Him to make us instruments and witnesses of God’s love to a world in such great need of knowing Love Himself. We must, like the apostles, go out and trusting that the Holy Spirit is driving us boldly proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ to our world. I cannot tell you how many times I have felt like a total failure in moments of evangelization, only to find out later that God used me as His instrument, even with all of my weaknesses, to affect the life of another. Today Jesus sends us out under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to witness to His love. God is calling you, the world, our country and our parish, need you. Go! Go out and let the Spirit use you to renew the earth.
Brothers and sisters, as Christians incorporated into the Body of Christ and having received the Holy Spirit, Christ the head uses us to change the world. Do you want peace in the world? Why not be the instrument of that change? But to be that instrument of change we must find it in ourselves. Come to this altar and be nourished by our Lord, come frequently to the sacrament of confession and be frequently reconciled with the Lord. As you become more and more a greater witness of Christ, the Holy Spirit will work through you to change the world.
Come to the Church, have life, have it abundantly and allow the Holy Spirit to use you and your gifts and talents to share that abundant life in Christ with the whole world. Last week Christ sent us out to preach His word and today Christ sends His Spirit to lead us. Go, Go out into the world and spread the message of Christ’s saving love found in the Church.