Hi everyone, here's my homily for THE SOLEMNITY OF PENTECOST - MAY 20, 2018 the readings for today's Mass can be found at: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/052018.cfm.
Thanks as always for reading, your feedback and comments and for
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great week - Fr Jim
PS - several people have asked me about making audio's of the homilies available. I've tried figuring out how to make a podcast but I've gotten more and more confused each time I've attempted. If any reader knows how to take a voice memo from an iphone to become a podcast, I'd appreciate the help... Just email me - firstname.lastname@example.org
feast of Pentecost - where we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the
Church; we focus on this, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity’s continued
activity in the Church and how the Holy Spirit wants to have a relationship
with each of us as well, the Gospel we heard kind of struck me in a different
way then I expected.
not like we haven’t heard this Gospel before - in fact we did, just a few weeks
ago on the Second Sunday of Easter. This
is the passage where Jesus has entered the locked upper room of the Apostles on
Easter Sunday Night. So this reading isn’t
an obscure passage that hasn’t been heard for some time, it’s not something
that is unfamiliar. But what stood out
was the words of Jesus:
be with you” - which in this very short passage of only 4 verses, he
repeats a second time ... “Peace be with you” before he bestows the Holy Spirit
words seem jarring to me. Particularly
this week... We had another school shooting yesterday carried out by an
obviously disturbed student - or possibly students - who also had planted bombs
and explosives around the school and in the community, so determined they were
to impose the greatest destruction of life that they could on their fellow
classmates, teachers and staff... The
more I listened to the news last night, the more I could feel myself getting
angry, tense, and fearful...
be with you.”
night wasn’t the first time I’ve found myself turning off the news – and even
the so called “entertainment” world.
I’ve been finding myself doing that a lot more often to be honest. When I do put the TV on, I’ve been opting for
either a rerun of Seinfeld or Everybody Loves Raymond - or
something calm or peaceful like HGTV more and more. Because the amount of negativity in so much
of what is being broadcasted has grown increasingly toxic. Entertainment seems to portray stories that
have no redemptive qualities and glamorize what are called “Anti-heroes” (Ever
seen the Walking Dead) Celebrities or public officials personal crises,
failures are broadcast and shared with an even greater frequency then ever
before as “gossip programs” which are almost considered news programs by some,
where the public can pick apart a person’s “fall from grace” to - I don’t know,
make ourselves feel better, or more superior?
Yeah, I’d much rather see the Property Brothers - take a train-wreck of
a house and transformed into something beautiful (magically reducing months of
work to a nice 30-60 minute program)
be with you”
be told... it’s not just the outside world that brings us down... that seems to
speak words that are completely contrary to these words of Jesus. I think of the family who just lost someone
they loved way too young and too tragically... I think of a relative who’s been
fighting cancer for over 10 years and being told their remaining options are
very limited.... I think of the couple who've been married for years but who are struggling to keep faithful to their vows... I think of students struggling to figure out
how they can afford next semesters tuition when they have already taken out
more loans than they had hoped or anticipated... There’s no shortage of problems,
difficulties, struggles that are all around us that if we take a moment to remember
them all seems to make hearing those words - “Peace be with you” jarring...
or insulting Unreal... too idealistic.
the more I sat with this, the more it hit me was that yes, Jesus is offering us
Peace - but it’s a choice. It’s our choice, our decision to
receive it. It’s our choice, our
decision to utilize it, to live it.
it always has been.
tend to look at Pentecost, and this Easter season that we conclude today with
stained-glass vision. Beautiful,
spiritual, transformational events that changed the world and we recall with
pride - as this momentous historic moment in the life of the Early Church. I think about the mosaic I saw in St. Louis’s
Cathedral of Pentecost where it’s this awesome illustration of the apostles,
dressed in their heavenly looking robes, with the Blessed Mother sitting there
with a halo and the dove hovering over them with these tongues of fire over
each of their heads. It looks so
perfect. It looks so amazing. It looks like everything they could’ve wanted
or imagined has been fulfilled instantly and completely. And it looks so removed from our
we miss in images like that was that it was a choice - it was a decision
for the apostles, for Mary to be there.
They were filled with fear. We
can’t forget, that in this very gospel, we hear that the room was locked. And St. John makes no excuses for the
locked doors, it was - “for fear
of the Jew [-ish leaders who had conspired with the Romans to kill Jesus, and
who they feared were after them next].”
Yet despite the sadness and sorrow which was still looming in their
heads and hearts from Good Friday... despite these fears, they choose to be
there. They choose Jesus.
not like they didn’t have choices. Maybe
because we’ve heard this story many times, we tend to think of the apostles as
characters in a play that we know how it’s going to play out. Yet they were just like us. They could’ve given into despair. We can’t forget that one of the 12 had...
Judas after choosing to follow the world, and at least securing himself with
the Romans and the Jewish leaders for turning Jesus over, recognized the horror
of that decision. But rather than
remembering all that Jesus had said and done... the words of Mercy,
the acts of love – the forgiveness to sinners - he choose despair and hung
was not the only one... there are other instances throughout the gospels where
we hear of people who walked away from Jesus:
The rich young man for one who after asking Jesus what more could he do,
found Jesus’ call to give up all that mattered in the world and devote himself
solely to Jesus too much for him to do.
The group of disciples who first heard Jesus’ teaching on the Eucharist
that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood - and couldn’t or
wouldn’t hear these words - they walked away as well.
the 12 could’ve taken off as well after Good Friday, and perhaps some of them
were even contemplating it. Yet they
made the choice to come together - the made the choice to do what Jesus had
told them to do. And so Jesus enters into that locked room; He
enters into that fear - already blowing their minds having been risen from the
dead – and then He offers them His Peace which is tied to His gift of the Holy
the days that followed that Easter night, the apostles would be confronted
again with all kinds of fear. After
appearing to them for 40 days, Jesus commissions them to now Go and proclaim
His Gospel and then He ascends into heaven.
They leave Mount Olivet - they return to the upper room - they had to
choose to be there together - to dedicate themselves to prayer - to believing
and trusting that Jesus’ promise of sending this “gift” this “Holy Spirit” upon
them would somehow enable them to fulfill Jesus’ commands.
so it happened. The Spirit comes upon
them, and we see that the apostles are transformed to speak in new languages
and the beginning of the Church takes place.
But just reading through the Acts of the Apostles - after that event,
this would be a daily choice, an ongoing thing that they had to do. They would be confronted with difficult
missions, hostile crowds, angry leaders - and ultimately almost all of them
would face their own deaths for being apostles of Christ. Yet they kept choosing Peace they kept
choosing the Holy Spirit and looking to Him to provide the strength, to
give them the words, to be their consoler in the moments of darkness when it
felt there was no one left in the world to support them.
what stays with me today. We too have to
choose to be men and women of Peace - We too have to choose to let the Holy
Spirit into our lives and our decisions:
when we hear of the the latest atrocity, we have to be cautious of our
reactions, our responses individually and personally. Do we choose Christ and let His Peace be with
we hear of nasty, deviant things being said by entertainers, do we share them
(and help amplify them); do we join in the slugfest and buying into the
non-stop “Outrage” culture that only seems to be creating a “gotcha”
environment. Or do we stop before we
tune in, or “share,” or chime in and comment, and choose Christ and let His
Peace be with us?
we think of all the personal struggles that family, or friends or even each of
us are going through personally - do we let our hearts get weighed down, give
into despair, and walk away in our depression, our fear, our worry? Or do we come as we are, looking to the
apostles example, and yes acknowledging our fears, our worry’s but not
giving into them and choose Christ and let His Peace be with us?
is the difficult place we find ourselves in.
We who have received this same Holy Spirit, we already have this
precious gift of God within us.
t’s not a distant spiritual
It’s not some confusing theological
concept that we need extensive teaching.
Jesus, who remains with us in His
Word, in His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, in the Church - continues to pour
out His gift of the Holy Spirit upon us.
He has promised that He will never
He has promised that He will
continue to do tremendous deeds through each and every one of us who make up
But it’s still a matter of a
choice, a decision on our parts.
We have to want the Holy
We have to want His Peace.