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Pentecost Sunday, Homily – Year C

Pentecost, Year C
Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31-34 (30)
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
John 20:19-23
June 9, 2019

Fifty days ago we celebrated Easter morning with the news that Jesus’ tomb had been found empty.  That began our Easter season.

Today our Easter season draws to a close with our celebration of Pentecost.  “Pentecost” means fifty days.  For the Jews, Pentecost was a commemoration of God giving the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.  They were guided by the Torah.  For us, Pentecost is the giving of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit that we count on to guide us.

The Holy Spirit arrived as “a strong driving wind” symbolizing the power of God and how God breathes life into us.  The Holy Spirit was visible as “tongues of fire” descending on the disciples as “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

They were giving “different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit.”  They were called to “different forms of service” but to the “same Lord.”.  “The Spirit enabled them” to fulfill the mission to proclaim the gospel to every nation.  To make this possible, each person in the crowd was able to hear the disciples speak in their own language.  The Spirit brought them together, many parts but one body.

God gives each of us some “manifestation of the Spirit” but not simply for our own individual good but so that we might work together as one body.

Think of the words we say in the Creed, “I believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.”

Are we all of these things?  Are we one, are we one as we heard Jesus pray last week that we be one?  Are we holy?  Are we “catholic,” meaning universal?  Are we “apostolic” in holding to our roots in Jesus that come to us through the Apostles?  We ask God to help us be better at these.

In terms of being “one” what do you think of when you hear the word “church”?  Is it this building?  Is it the people around you at this Mass?  How about the other Masses?  How about the other Catholic churches in Wayne County?  The diocese?  The world?

I think we tend to focus on the church building and community where we attend because that is our primary experience of church in a physical sense.  As we become a cluster with St. Joseph the Worker and the Catholic Community of the Blessed Trinity, we are invited to rethink that.

We are part of something bigger than just what we have here.  We get used to what is familiar.  Most people come to the same Mass week after week, sometimes because of need for their schedule, but often simply because that is what we are used to doing.  When we cluster and no longer have a 4:30 Mass things will certainly be different for those who regularly came to that Mass.  As they shift to other Masses, it will also be different for those not used to seeing them at the 8:15 or 10:30 Mass. It’s okay.  We are all Catholic, whether we attend the 4:30, 8:15, or the 10:30 Mass.

We like what is familiar, at least I know I do.  However, I have seen a lot of different churches.  Nineteen years ago, I quit my job with the state to enter seminary.  While in seminary I was formally involved in ministry in six different churches.  Since I was ordained twelve years ago, this is the fourth different parish I have served in.  So, I have been in a lot of different parishes but they have all been part of the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.”  God is present in all of it.

I say this to invite you to think about our identity as Catholics and to ask what God is calling us to be as we become part of a cluster.  We are not to turn everything upside down.  We are called to be “apostolic” holding on to what we have always believed as the Truth that comes from God. 

The question is how do we live that out.  To do this, we call out in the responsorial psalm, “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”  It says “renew”.  It does not say forget the past.  I think “renew” is about becoming what Christ has always called us to be. 

Being renewed isn’t just something we need to do because of the clustering.  Our numbers have been shrinking for a long time.  We ask God to renew us, to bring us new life, and to reveal the same gospel that the Church has always proclaimed to new people.

We might “fear” what is to come.  Fear is nothing new.   Remember how after Jesus’ tomb was found empty, the disciples were in locked in a room “for fear of the Jews.”  The Holy Spirit brings us the gift of courage/fortitude.  We need this gift as face changes.  We also need the gifts of the Holy Spirit of understanding and wisdom, as well as right judgment to lend us through the changes. 

When we trust in the Holy Spirit to lead us, we receive “peace,” peace as a fruit of the Spirit.

As we prepare for the changes that come later this month, I pray that everyone in the cluster receive what you need as individuals and as a community of believers to be who God calls you to be and I ask to you to pray for me as I move to a new parish and face change in my life.

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