Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
May 27, 2012
Scriptural Reference: Acts 2:1-11; John 20:19-23
Though it is a great feast along with Christmas and Easter, Pentecost can so easily be overlooked by many of us as just another ordinary Sunday. Well it is not just an ordinary event; it is the feast of the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised by Jesus, and when received by the Apostles this just totally transformed them from timid and even frightened to zealous, enthusiastic, totally committed to the Mission of Jesus – evangelizers of the Good News of salvation that was not only great to be received but once received could not be contained – had to be shared with as many as possible.
Perhaps, we fail to respond fully to whatever the Spirit has in store for us because we think that we are supposed to mimic the first disciples and if that does not seem to be possible, then we simply do nothing.
The power of the Spirit is meant to give us life, to energize us, but for this to be possible we need to be open to this Spirit. Otherwise I would compare us to a basket trying to gather rain-water. The basket gets wet but there is never enough water gathered for it to be put to good use in the garden God has intended us to cultivate.
Cyril of Jerusalem makes good use of the symbol of water to explain how beneficial the Spirit is in our lives. Using the symbol of water to speak about the Holy Spirit brings us back to our baptism. At baptism, water is used as this essential symbol of all life and so it is the saving bath we need for the onset of our lives in Jesus Christ. We could say that the Holy Spirit brings that seed of life to growth, maturity, fruition.
Listen to the teaching of St. Cyril and how he goes from the natural order to the supernatural.
“All things are dependent on water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many effects – one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on.
In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same apportions grace to each one he wills. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of the effects of his action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous.
The Spirit makes one a teacher of divine truth, enables another to interpret Holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one person’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor. His action is different in different people. In each person, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.”
Is it too much to ask you to believe that this action of the Spirit is meant to take place in each one of us? And that if we are open to the gifts of the Spirit, we will find our special place in the body of Christ in the Church, in the world. Please note that whatever gift we receive is not just for oneself but for the common good. Our independent – all too often even self-centered attitudes do not always work for the common good. All too often we are only willing to exert the efforts that serve our own interests or the needs of the people or projects right close to us. The Spirit does not respect those limitations. The common good embraces so much more.
May we allow the Holy Spirit to bring the best out of all of us, to make us worthy daughters and sons of God, to transform us into true disciples, to bring all the fruits of the Spirit to our world in need of the Holy Spirit.