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Pentecost, Year A – Homily

Pentecost, Year A
Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 (30)
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13
John 20:19-23
May 31, 2020

In the Old Testament we hear of God.  He is called by different titles but He is generally understood in the sense of “one person.”  Then comes Jesus.  Now, at Pentecost, comes the Holy Spirit.

In today’s gospel we hear about all three persons in the span of five verses.  Jesus comes and stands in the midst of the disciples and speaks of the Father who sent him.  Jesus does not act on his own.  What He does is the will of the Father.  Then Jesus “breathed on them said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.””  The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Faith is a gift.  As Paul says, “No one can say, “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit.”  It is our choice whether or not to accept faith through the Holy Spirit but it begins with God offering us the gift of faith.

We need faith, we need the Holy Spirit to truly live as we are meant to live for as the psalm says, “If you take away their breath, they perish.”  For Pentecost, we have a special sequence before the gospel.  In it we hear, “Where you are not, we have naught.  Nothing good in deed or thought.”  It is God who breathes life into us through the Holy Spirit. 

We need the Holy Spirit to help “Bend the stubborn heart and will” (sequence).  We hear that and we might think of others who we think are being stubborn.  What about ourselves?  We need to let the Holy Spirit into us to “renew the face of the earth.

God creates.  Humans sin.  Jesus comes to forgive to restore what was meant to be.  Then, we are created anew with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus came to the disciples behind locked doors.  The Holy Spirit comes to us wherever we are at. 

The Holy Spirit came at Pentecost as a “strong driving wind…as tongues of fire.”  Through the Holy Spirit the disciples spoke in many tongues.  The Holy Spirit bridges over the many different languages so that the gospel can be heard by all.

The fact that the disciples spoke in tongues and with a new boldness made the Holy Spirit evident in them.

Our own reception of the Holy Spirit is often much more subtle.  We first receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism.  Given that most of us were baptized as infants, we don’t remember it.  Our parents were there, along with others.  They most likely did not see an immediate profound external change in us.  Yet, it is a grace filled moment.  They bring us for baptism knowing it brings grace, grace they want us to have.

We are confirmed later, sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Again, we might expect a profound change.  We may not perceive the change.  Just because we don’t always “perceive” the change, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. 

The Holy Spirit gives us gifts that can bear fruit in our lives and in the world.  Paul speaks of “different kinds of spiritual gifts…different forms of service…different workings” that all come from the same Spirit, Lord, and God.

We are called to pool our gifts to work together for the building up of God’s Kingdom.  We are baptized into one body to do the Father’s Will.

Yet, there are gifts common to all.  The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit are knowledge, wisdom, understanding, courage, counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord.

We need knowledge, wisdom, understanding to know what God’s will is for us.  We need good counsel (right judgment) to help us make wise choices. 

Just as the disciples were in a locked room for “fear of the Jews,” we might have things we fear.  We count on the gift of courage to help us overcome our fears.  Without these gifts we are naught.

With these gifts, we can do wonderful things.  Open to these gifts, the Holy Spirit bears fruit in us.  The fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.

We can have all these fruits in faith.  Faith in God who rescues us from sin just as He rescued his people from slavery in Egypt.  We have faith knowing that Jesus died for us.  We have faith knowing that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son to renew the face of the earth.

“Come, Holy Spirit, come!”

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