Pentecost Year C

     Emotions are interesting things. They have this ability to well up inside of us causing us to do things we would never dream of doing, but when emotions get to the extreme they cease causing us to do something and suddenly paralyze us. This is what was going on with the Apostles. In today’s Gospel we hear that after the Apostles had watched Jesus die on the cross they felt alone and were crippled by fear. Those 11 men who just days earlier were walking the streets of Jerusalem were now hiding together in the upper room with the doors locked out of fear that they might be put to death like Jesus.  These 11 men who had spent the last 3 years following Christ, listening to Him teach and watching Him perform miracles had come to believe that He was truly the Son of God, only to see Him die a brutal death seemingly ending their relationship with Him. They didn’t know what to do next, where to go or what would happen to them.  Then, out of nowhere, Christ appeared before them, saying, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, now I send you!” I don’t know about you, while I would have been happy to see Jesus, I would not have appreciated being sent right back out into the hostile city of Jerusalem. The Gospels tell us that the sight of Jesus was not enough to remove the fear that the Disciples had.

     What happened that caused these 11 men who were cowering away in the upper room to go out and proclaim the Gospel, even dying as a witness to the faith? Simply put they had an encounter with the Holy Spirit, who never disappoints us and is the supreme cause of our confidence. We hear in the First Reading how 50 days after Jesus rose from the dead and 10 days after He ascended to be seated at the right hand of the Father, The Holy Spirit, came and descended upon the apostles giving them the gifts they needed to boldly carry out the mission of Christ until the end of time.

     Today our world still needs to hear that message and so Jesus sends us out into the world. He sends us out into our homes, the places where we work, and our neighborhoods to redeem this world one heart at a time. Jesus sends us out as messengers of His peace and forgiveness. He sends us to tell everyone the good news of God’s mercy and love.

     Sadly our world desperately needs to hear this message because so many of our brothers and sisters drift away from God and live in fear thinking they aren’t worthy of God’s love. They simply can’t image that God is interested in them and so in our words and actions, we need to try to open the doors of heaven to everyone. Yet this isn’t always easy because, like the apostles, we are being sent out into the unknown.

     On the 23rd of this month I have the honor of celebrating my first anniversary as a priest and as I think back over what has been a very crazy year lots of memories stick out. Amidst those memories are some of the happiest times of my life and some of the scariest moments of my life. When I think of those scary moments, I am immediately brought back to the moment when I found out that the Archbishop was trusting me, a priest of only 3 months, to run this parish while he worked to find a new pastor, but the scariest moment came even before that when I found out that I was being assigned as the associate pastor at Queen of All Saints. The only thing I knew about our parish was that I was replacing Fr. Fallon who everyone loved and I had no real desire to follow Fr. Fallon.  Yet out of obedience to Archbishop Carlson and placing my complete trust in the Holy Spirit I came here and jumped in with both feet. As I stop now to think about it I recognize that my assignment to this parish was truly the work of the Holy Spirit and I know that I wouldn’t be the same priest I am today without that move of uncertainty.

     All of us have those moments in our life when we need to step out into the dark, not really knowing where that step will take us? While it is never easy, I have come to learn that the Holy Spirit leads us through times of uncertainty. After all “fear in general, is a shrinking of the soul faced by grave danger.”[1] When our soul is filled with the Holy Spirit, we are filled with love Himself and since “love casts out fear,”[2] when we are filled with the Spirit no fear can cripple us.

     It is the Holy Spirit, the giver of courage who gives us the gift to overcome our fears and so as this Easter season comes to a close today, we need to ask ourselves where are we touched by fear, where are we sitting behind locked doors, and then we need to invite the Holy Spirit to invade our hearts to touch those places and pour his gift of courage into our hearts. And so as we celebrate the feast of Pentecost we beg the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts praying, come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.

[1] Reginald Garrigou-LeGrange, O.P. Everlasting Life. Rockford: Tan Publishing.(1952). Pg 138.

[2] St. Faustina Kowalska, Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska. Stockbridge: Marian Press. (2011) Pg 248.

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