HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST,
June 12, 2011:.
One bright Sunday morning, Stephen’s mother hurried into her son’s bedroom to wake him up. “Stephen, it’s Sunday. Time to get up and go to church!” Stephen mumbled from under the covers, “I don’t want to go and I’ll give you two reasons why: First, I don’t like them and second, they don’t like me.” His mother replied, “Now, that’s just plain nonsense. You’ve got to go to church and I’ll give you two reasons why you must. First, you’re 40 years old and, second, you’re the pastor!”
We heard in our Gospel that Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” We celebrate today the Solemnity of Pentecost. This was originally a Jewish festival 50 days after Passover celebrating the giving of the Law to Moses and the foundation of the covenant making Israel God’s chosen people. Today, as Christians we celebrate 50 days after Easter, the New Passover, the giving of the Holy Spirit and the new covenant established in the Church.
This story of Pentecost began in fear in the upper room and ended in joy. Pastor Stephen could as well be any of the apostles whom Jesus had commissioned to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. But as soon as Jesus leaves them ascending to Heaven, what did they do? They retired to their upper rooms and hid themselves. They were afraid of the people. Like Stephen they knew that the people did not like them, they knew that their message was different from the popular message of the time, and they just felt like wrapping themselves up in bed and not having to get up and face the hostile world.
We too are often like that, saying our prayers quietly, going to church quietly, receiving Jesus in our hearts quietly, and going home again quietly. But what about the charge that Jesus left us to be His witnesses and to share the Good News of God’s love with all people? Sometimes we think that people don’t like to be reminded of God. We’re afraid they’ll tell us to “go away” if we speak to them about God. We’re afraid they won’t listen. We’re afraid they’ll say we’re too religious and out of touch. We’re afraid that our faith isn’t strong enough to stand up. Or more simply, sometimes it’s just, they don’t like us and we don’t like them. And so, like Stephen, we give up on our God-given duty and go on enjoying our comfortable silences, our comfortable sleep.
But, Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Fortunately, Pastor Stephen had a guide, his mother, who woke him up and persuaded him to go out and preach. There is a wonderful prayer that, in religious life, we pray at the beginning of daily meditation, “Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.” This is the kind of work that the Holy Spirit does in the hearts of believers. When fear of trouble tends to freeze our faith into silent submission, the Holy Spirit warms us up – enkindles the fire – and empowers us to go out and make a difference.
The Holy Spirit reminds us that we have a mission. Our mission is to tell everybody the Good News that God is their Father, that God is the Father of us all, that in spite of all the visible difference of language and culture and social status, we are all one family and should live as brothers and sisters. Our mission is to break the barriers between “us” and “them,” between male and female, between Jew and Gentile, between rich and poor, between conservative and liberal, between Black and White, between whatever it is that divides us and to bring all people to speak the one universal language of brotherly and sisterly love. This is possible only through the working of the Holy Spirit. And so, Jesus says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
And yet, despite a more than 2,000 year history, somehow the world has yet to fully embrace the Gospel message that Jesus came to bring us. “What can I do?” you may say, “I am only a single individual. What difference can I make?” A squirrel once asked a wise owl what the weight of a single snowflake was. “Nothing more than nothing,” the owl answered. The squirrel then told the owl about a time when he was resting on a branch of a tree, counting each snowflake that came to rest until he reached the number 3,471,952. Then with the settling of the very next flake — crack. The branch suddenly snapped, tumbling the squirrel and the snow to the ground. “That was surely a whole lot of nothing,” said the squirrel.
Our daily personal efforts to spread God’s Kingdom of love and justice may be as light weight as snowflakes. But by heaping our snowflakes together we shall eventually be able to break the heavy branch of sin, evil and injustice in our world today. And we can only do that if we are open to the Holy Spirit who wants to enter our lives and give us the strength we need.
So, on this day of Pentecost, let this be our prayer, “Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of us, your faithful people, and enkindle in us the fire of your love so that we can spread the Good News of your Kingdom to all the world.”
May God give you peace.
A Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
June 12, 2011
The Feast of Pentecost: The Gifts and Charisms of The Holy Spirit
A reflection on the meaning of the Feast of Pentecost and the person, gifts and charisms of the Holy Spirit. The Feast of Pentecost, originally the Jewish Feast of weeks commemorating the gift of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai 50 days after the Exodus, was the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out in the Upper Room upon the apostles and other disciples in the form of tongues of fire and a strong wind, fifty days after Easter Sunday, the day marking the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Pentecost is seen as the birthday of the Church.
The Holy Spirit: Giver of Truth and Grace
Let us this Pentecost enter fully and devoutly into a life of intimacy with the Holy Spirit
This Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, that day on which the Holy Spirit appeared to the apostles in the Upper Room as tongues of fire and came to rest on each one of them (Acts 2:3). “[The Holy Spirit] is going to accomplish a divine work in us; to trace in our hearts the living image of Jesus, that image which we must bear in order to enter into the eternal mansions” — Archbishop Luis Martinez
Did the apostles speak in tongues?
And when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded in mind, because that every man heard them speak in his own tongue. And they were all amazed, and wondered, saying: Behold, are not all these, that speak, Galileans? And how have we heard, every man our own tongue wherein we were born? […] We have heard them speak in our own tongues the wonderful works of God. (Acts of the Apostles 2:6-8,11
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit: What They Are and How to Use Them
If you ask Catholics and Pentecostals about the number of gifts of the Holy Spirit, and what those gifts are, you’ll likely get two different answers. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, not to be confused with the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23, CCC 1832) are understood differently by the two groups.
I. The Pentecostal View of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Pentecostals, and some other Protestants, believe that there are nine spiritual gifts:
Feast of Pentecost – How Are We to Honor the Holy Ghost in our Souls?
If the Holy Ghost is…really in our souls, loving us with an unspeakably great love and craving for our love in return, we must above all realize and remember His Divine Presence. We must not, as many do, pass the whole day, pass many days and weeks in complete forgetfulness of Him.
The Virtue of Generosity
Generosity inspires gratitude, and gratitude inspires generosity. God is generous to us and our generosity, as St. Paul tells us, “gives proof of our gratitude towards God” (2 Cor. 9:11).
In gratitude we are human; in generosity we are divine: “You received without pay, give without pay” (Mt. 10:8).
What every Catholic needs to know about saints — Our friends in high places
The Blessed Mother. St. Joseph. St. Thérèse the Little Flower. St. Anthony. St. Jude. These are arguably the most beloved saints among Catholics in the United States.
You will find statues or pictures of them in parish churches and private homes, just as you will find portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in your local town hall. Our civic leaders urge us to respect and imitate the patriotism of Washington and Lincoln, just as the Church urges us to imitate the virtues of the saints.
Stopping the Scriptural Spin
Every day we come across people who make the wildest assertions about what is true and not true with respect to faith in God, Jesus Christ, Mary, the saints, Christian morality, hell, heaven, and so much more. Many people sound absolutely certain about these things, one way or another. And yet in reality most of them are not in the slightest position to know.
Revitalizing the Faith of Our Teens
For decades, the stage has been set by voices in the Church for a more profound understanding of the urgent need to turn focus and evangelizing and catechizing efforts toward young people, who are exhibiting unique generational trends in this modern cultural climate. Grasping the significance of these generational traits (and simply knowing of their existence to begin with) is imperative for selecting the most appropriate methods for reaching these young souls, and impressing upon them a love for Christ and His Catholic Church—a love which translates into a lifestyle and a yearning to participate in the evangelical and catechetical mission of the Catholic faith community.
Real Christians Needed
A number of years ago I was invited to give a retreat to a group of lay people in New York City. A seminarian graciously accompanied me in order to help with the practical details. Prior to the evening retreat, we had a number of appointments, and so that meant that we would have lunch in New York. The seminarian really enjoyed Asian cuisine, so I accommodated his palate by inviting him to lunch at a Korean restaurant.
Blessed Teresa leads filmmaker to God
This is unusual for a Japanese person. A 19-year-old economics student in college watches the Akira Kurosawa movie Ikiru (To Live) and is so impressed he talks his father into letting him switch to film studies. This was 1952.
Ikiru tells the story of a cancer patient who has only six months to live, but “really lives that half year,” says Shigeki Chiba, 78, prior to a screening of his third Mother Teresa film at the Salesian University in Rome, earlier this week.
Why I Am a Catholic
Our reason points out the truth of the Catholic religion by these principles:
1. There is a God.
2. The soul of man is immortal.
3. All men are obliged to practice religion.
On the Slow, Steady and Subtle Erosion of Religious Liberty
Some years ago I read a humorous but poignant story about public prayer at a school graduation. It took place during the time when tide had just begun to turn against religious displays etc. in the public square, somewhere in the late 1980s. Up until that time prayer by a local minister, priest or rabbi was part of graduation, almost without exception. We certainly had it at my public high school graduation in 1979.
Top five religious mysteries
– The Ark of the Covenant
The Old Testament recounts that Moses, on leading the Israelites from Egypt, received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai.
The Commandments, written on stone tablets, were later placed in a chest made from acacia wood, plated with gold and topped with two golden angels – the Ark of the Covenant.
Degrees of Prayer and Intimacy with God
Inevitably forced to descend from the sacramental rampart that stands between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man, the true believer finds himself beset with the indifference, isolation and ignorance born of the neo-pagan rejection of God and His Church. In understanding and anticipating what the true believer would need to survive in such a world, God gave us the communal prayer of the Church (liturgy and sacraments) as well as the gift of personal prayer through which we can ascend to ever greater heights of intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Secularism’s Victory through Osmosis
The German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831) began his education as a Lutheran seminarian during the cultural ferment that we now refer to as the French Enlightenment. Later, as a philosophy professor at Jena, in a chapter in his 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit on “the struggle of the Enlightenment with Superstition,” he offered a philosophical analysis of the success of the Enlightenment that took the world by storm in the previous century. He describes the swift, consummate, but initially bloodless victory over the “idols” of superstition as follows, including a quote from Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew:
Money Matters (But Not the Way You Think)
St. Matthew, patron saint of bankers, pray for me. This is how I open and close each day. I am a banker and in the business of buying and selling money. There is a common misconception among the faithful that having money is bad, and having a lot of money is really bad. Conversely, it is thought that not having money (or enough money) is somehow morally sanctifying. While this attitude is widespread, it misses the point: Money is not really about money at all. In fact, understanding the true nature of money — and, more broadly, wealth — and its role in our journey through the material world is key to more fully understanding God’s plan for each of us.
Fr. Philip’s Vocation Story
I was born a poor white child. . .in rural Mississippi. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Nonetheless, it’s true.
Both sides of my family are Mississippi delta cotton farmers. Though no one farms now, both of my grandfathers planted cotton. My mother and all of her sisters “chopped cotton.” My dad drove a tractor. All of them went to church. My mother’s family went to the Baptist Church and my dad’s family went to the Methodist Church.
Dream a Little Dream
Hi sister Martha, today was a very hard day for me and I cried a lot and then went to sleep a little because of the headache caused by crying. I don’t remember much, but I saw the Infant of Prague. I never saw a picture of him but then I searched for it in google and there I find that it was him…Can you please help me with this dream!!!As soon as I saw him in my dream I began the 9 hours novena…
THANKS A LOT GOD BLESS YOU…