Saturday, May 14, 2016

From the archives a Homily from Pentecost 2010

I’ve celebrated many birthdays in my life; in the interest of full disclosure 53 of them in fact. Not too may years ago for my 50th, my wife and daughter threw me a party I’ll never forget. It was an incredible evening.

We all recall with some fondness our birthdays and those of our children, other family members and dear friends. We experience a certain level of excitement when we wish “Happy Birthday” to our relatives and friends.

As people of faith, have we come today to wish Happy Birthday to the Church, on this 50th day of Easter, Pentecost Sunday?

The Feast we celebrate today is among the oldest in the history of our faith. We hear the events of that first Christian Pentecost in the 1st reading today from Acts of the Apostles and it is mentioned in Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians which was written only a few decades after Jesus rose from the dead.

In our 1st reading today we get the play by play of the events of that Pentecost event. Just 10 days after Jesus ascends to the Father, we find his followers still locked in the upper room. Scripture tells us that Mary is with them. And then it happens; the Holy Spirit, promised in last week’s Ascension Gospel, descends upon the Apostles and appears as the brightest of birthday candles ever; tongues as of fire. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit.

This event is the Church birthday and the moment of profound transformative change. The Apostles, timid and still afraid, are all of a sudden bold and are speaking the Word of God in languages that all could understand. The arrival of the Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus, fulfills His earthly mission and inaugurates the New Covenant. And this being God’s perfect plan, the Church, celebrating her birthday already has its’ 1st Pope, the prevalent spokesman in the events as recorded in Acts and that of course is Saint Peter.

We celebrate this important Feast Day every year. We emphasize the events of Pentecost and the powerful role of the Holy Spirit in our lives with each and every Confirmation class. Perhaps many of us can recall that even to this day. And for our young students who were just confirmed or those preparing for the Confirmation this year, this should be fresh in your mind and hearts.

The Holy Spirit that empowered those gathered in the upper room is the same Holy Spirit who intends His gifts, and there are 7 of them and His power for all of us here today. Are we open to the spirit? Are we bold about our faith? Are we energetic about our faith? Do our words and actions let others know that we are members of the Church established by Jesus Christ and fortified by the descent of the Holy Spirit?

What can we do this week to answer these questions in the affirmative and fully celebrate our Church birthday? We can look to the renewal of the fathers of Vatican II who placed new emphasis on the Holy Spirit and the Pentecost fervor of the early church. In the rich documents of Vatican II we are called to the vocation of service. Service can take on many roles but in the week ahead can we challenge ourselves to enlist or volunteer for a significant role of service? At this time of year, we begin the process of looking for new catechists for our parish school of religion. That new catechist is one of us, sitting here in church right now. Please call the parish office, this week, and explore the possibility of bringing the Word of God to our young students. Next month, we begin our summer programs. People of all ages are still needed to assist with the day to day operations of our camp and vacation bible school. Make a call this week. And all of us can participate in the current fundraiser to help us with the expenses of these two programs. Finally, all of us, in the quiet of our homes can pray with and reflect on this powerful reading from Acts of the Apostles in the week ahead. Can we place ourselves in that scene of the upper room, as described in chapter 2 of Acts, and pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us, just as experienced by the Apostles on that 1st Church birthday?

It was a resounding 50th birthday I celebrated a few years ago but an even more resounding birthday party 2,000 years ago for a young Church and it’s hundreds of members and a few thousand onlookers. Imagine the birthday party we should be throwing for Her now, 2,000 years older, a billion members strong and able to share the teachings of Her founder, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Happy Birthday Holy Mother Church; your not getting older; only better!

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