Pentecost – Homily

Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34 (30)
1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13John 20:19-23
May 28, 2023

Our passage from Acts today begins, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled…”  We need to realize there are two meanings to this.  First, it was time for the Jewish Pentecost.  The Jewish feast of Pentecost had been a harvest festival and a time for celebrating the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai.

The word “Pentecost” means 50 days.  It was now 50 days since Jesus had risen from the dead.  It was time for a new Christian Pentecost, the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

And suddenly there came from the sky…”  Why from the sky?  Because we visualize Heaven as being above us.  What comes is from Heaven.

A strong driving wind…”  Remember in the second story of creation how God breathed life into Adam.  The wind is like the breath of God.

Tongues of fire…”  Remember the fire of the Burning Bush in which God appeared to Moses.  Fire can be used to purify something.  Fire (heat) can transform us.  “Tongues” points to what the Holy Spirit who comes in the “strong driving wind” as “tongues of fire” enables the disciples to do.  The people each heard the disciples speak in their own language. 

What sin had done at the Tower of Babel (they started to speak different languages), the Holy Spirit undid as it purified them.

Paul writes, “No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”  To say “Jesus is Lord” is not simply speaking these three words.  Anyone can speak them but to truly mean and understand them requires the Holy Spirit.  The first disciples received that Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the same Holy Spirit we receive in Baptism.

The Holy Spirit enables us to complete the mission given to us by Christ, to proclaim the gospel to all nations.  We all share in the mission but in “different forms of service” having been given “different kinds of spiritual gifts.

At the time of the building of the Tower of Babel, the people were scattered by their sin when they began to speak different languages.  The Holy Spirit brought them back together as the people all heard the disciples speaking in their own language.

We are a divided world today.  We are becoming more and more polarized.  Part of this is because of those who think everyone gets to decide their own truth.  We are not united.

We are many parts but called to be one Body in Christ.

There is division over truth as people abandon what God has taught from the beginning and people think they can recreate themselves in their own image.  Our physical bodies that we receive at our conception are part of who God creates us to be.  We cannot recreate ourselves by denying who our bodies say we are.  We are created body and soul.  Our bodies say something about who we are as determined by God.

We did not create ourselves.  We cannot recreate ourselves.  Indeed, we go astray at times.  Going “astray” means we have drifted from God’s plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11).  How could we ever think we know better than God? Yet, at times that is precisely what we think.

God knew his people would stray.  That’s why God knew all along that He would send the Holy spirit to “renew the face of the earth.”  Are you willing to let God renew you, to recreate you, in being who He calls you to be?

It is not easy.  The devil is cunning in leading the world astray.  Are we afraid to speak up against the world?

Do you remember how the disciples were gathered behind locked doors after Jesus had been crucified?

Why did they lock the doors?  “…for fear of the Jews.”  They were afraid of the Jews who had Jesus crucified.  They were afraid the Jews who persecuted Jesus would do the same thing to them.

Fear can be very powerful.

What are you afraid of?

Who are you afraid of?

Does it/they keep you from following Jesus?

How do we overcome our fears?  With the Holy Spirit.  One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit is courage (aka fortitude).  It is this gift of the Holy Spirit that makes it possible to overcome our fears.  The Holy Spirit also offers gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. 

When we accept these gifts, it leads us to “peace.”  The peace that Jesus offers when He says “Peace be with you” is not an earthly peace.  The Peace of Christ transcends earthly things to fill our heart and soul with real peace.  Our struggles against the false ways of the world will not instantly disappear when we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us.  However, our attitude about the struggles will change.  We realize earthly things are not really important.  It is God who brings us the peace and joy we seek.  “Peace” and “Joy” are fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:16-26).

I end by stating the choice that each of us has to make.  Are you going to follow those in the world who, tricked by the devil, are abandoning the truth that comes from God, or are you going to let go of worldly ways and allow the Holy Spirit to renew you and to “renew the face of the earth?

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