Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
May 18, 1997
Scriptural Reference: Galatians 5:16-25
On Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit. This took place in the context of a strange noise – like a strong driving wind – with tongues as of fire appearing and coming to rest on them. A manifestation of God’s presence different from other manifestations. The Spirit infuses special life into the new-born Church – sets the followers of Jesus on fire – the fire of love; gets the faith in Jesus moving, not only within them but beyond them – taking on the mission to go out, to preach, to baptize, to bring Christ’s goodness to all.
The very same Holy Spirit continues the work of God in each one of us – in the whole Church.
We would not even be here today if we had not been touched by the Spirit. How could we believe in salvation, in forgiveness of sins, in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, in the possibility of loving and forgiving one another if it were not for the Spirit.
Like so many good things in life we perhaps often take the Spirit for granted, but taking the Spirit for granted does not change the existence, presence and work of the Spirit among us!
I am not always thinking of the fact that I am breathing to stay alive or that my heart keeps beating to prolong my life. Just as we are not always conscious of the process of life within us, so too, though we may not always acknowledge the work of the Spirit, nothing in our spiritual life happens without the impulse of this wonderful Spirit sent to us by the Father as promised by Jesus!
I am quite sure that if we were more aware and appreciative of life – natural life, we would be much more enthusiastic about being alive. So too, if we were more aware and appreciative of the Holy Spirit, a whole new dimension of spiritual life would emerge! It would be a whole new world of spiritual potential at our disposal. We would be able to turn to the Spirit in so many circumstances and get assistance, guidance, counsel, strength, healing we never knew existed.
It is all there – God’s gift – and we do not pay attention to it. It is like having a property with buried treasure that we do not bother digging for! It is like having a beautiful garden filled with flowers, vegetables and fruit and we do not help ourselves. It is ours but we do not care.
In Galatians St. Paul specifically refers to the fruits of the Spirit and what are they? Love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity.
If we took advantage of all these spiritual fruits, life would be wonderful for us. It would also be wonderful for anyone coming in contact with us. If a whole community like all of us lived in love, peace, joy, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity we would have a hard time distinguishing between heaven and earth.
In our frail humility, in our brokenness, we cannot always cling to all these spiritual qualities, but we can work at it, trust in the power of the Spirit to help us in areas that are more difficult for us.
And so I ask you to make this Pentecost until next Pentecost the year of one of these spiritual fruits for you. Concentrate on just one, perhaps one you really need.
As I go through the list again, choose one spiritual fruit of the Spirit; make it yours; see how your life can change, can grow spiritually. Love – joy – peace – patient endurance – kindness – generosity – faith – mildness – chastity. Next Pentecost I will report back on the one I chose, trusting you have something to report on for your choice.
The Spirit is with you in each of these gifts. May the one you choose today change your life. The Spirit has that much power!