Today’s homily is for Pentecost Sunday, June 5, 2022, and the readings can be found by clicking here.
Happy Pentecost Sunday! Today we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles of our Lord fifty days after our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Jesus told his disciples about this. He said, “I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” And the Apostles, although they didn’t quite understand, were faithful, they obeyed, and they were open to God’s plan for their life.
My sons and I have been doing some important theological research lately; we’ve been binge watching the Marvel comic series, Moon Knight. Stay with me here, this is important stuff, and there’s a pretty strong connection to Pentecost and discipleship. In Moon Knight Steven Grant is a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, who discovers he has an identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector. To be clear God is not creating mercenaries…but the point is that Steven is a timid, bumbling, shy kind of guy until the spirit of the Egyptian God Khonshu comes into him. He becomes Khonshu’s avatar–a servant filled with Khonshu’s spirit who serves Khonshu on earth. The mild mannered Steven Grant, when filled with Khonshu’s spirit becomes Marc Spector, this confident, courageous, hero who sets the world right, doing battle against avatar’s of evil.
Okay, I hope you’re getting the connection here…we are Steven Grant! At Pentecost the Apostles were filled with the powerful Spirit of God, and these shy, bumbling, disciples receive the power of and the gifts of the Holy Spirit and become courageous, confident, warriors for God–the Marc Spector’s of our world today. I know it’s not popular to talk about warriors and knights and battle–but I don’t care, because that’s exactly what we’re called to do. Scripture is clear on this; there is a battle going on, we’re in the middle of it, and we need to wake up to this truth. St. Paul says, “Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” There is a battle between good and evil, we have chosen to fight for goodness and truth against violence and deception and all kinds of evil. We have chosen which side we will fight, and God has sent us, his warriors, his Spirit to fill us, to teach us, to train us, and to prepare us for battle against selfishness, and greed, and lust, and those things in this life that bring pain and suffering.
That’s what we celebrate today. We celebrate God’s gift of the Holy Spirit that unifies God’s army, equips us all with the gifts of the Holy Spirit: knowledge, understanding, wisdom, strength, counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord. These are given to us at our baptism and brought to full strength in the Sacrament of Confirmation. But wait, there’s more…
On top of those gifts that are given to everyone, “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” In other words, in addition to the seven gifts of the Spirit that are for all, there are particular gifts that are given to each of us to help us accomplish the mission to which we have been called. St. Paul says, “To one is given the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge, to another faith; or gifts of healing, mighty deeds, prophecy, discernment of spirits; varieties of tongues; interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”
God has equipped us to be theologians, teachers, doctors, nurses, prayer warriors, prophets, translators, and servants all. We need to discern God’s call for us in our life, discern what particular gift he has given to us, and then do the work he has prepared for us to do. And we need to get on it–there’s a battle going on, and we need warriors, not spectators.