Today’s homily is for Pentecost Sunday, May 23, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video can be viewed by clicking here soon.
Years ago, I remember watching a beer commercial for Red Stripe Lager, from Jamaica. With Reggae music playing in the background, a very happy Jamaican man said, “Red Stripe, helping our white friends dance for over seventy years!” Now, I don’t know how true that is (Deacon Steve has some pretty sweet moves without Red Stripe), but what I do know is this, the Holy Spirit has been helping our Christian friends be AMAZING for over 2,000 years! That’s what the Spirit does—It makes me, It makes us, It makes the world amazing.
Today we celebrate Pentecost, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given to us. Out of love, God gave us his Spirit to change us into Christ’s body, and then gave us the gifts we need to transform everything and everyone we encounter to make the world amazing!
After Jesus’ resurrection he promised his disciples that he would send the Advocate, the Spirit of God, and then on the fiftieth day (Pentecost) Jesus made good on that promise! The Holy Spirit came rushing in and Jews from every nation under God were confused, astounded, and utterly amazed! The Spirit gave ordinary men the gifts they needed to share the truth of Salvation in Jesus Christ. And about three thousand people were baptized and saved that very day. Pretty amazing stuff.
My friends, the Holy Spirit has not gone anywhere! The Spirit is still alive in God’s Church. It is still alive in the world. God continues to renew the face of the earth! As Christians we still receive the Spirit at Baptism, It is still strengthened at Confirmation, and It’s gifts can still, through us, make the Glory of God visible to the world by caring about and working for justice. By caring about schools and hospitals, food shelters, and ministry to the poorest. By concern and support for immigrants in every land, by building bridges and creating unity, the Church continues to make the world a more amazing place! We need to be on board with the ministry and mission of Jesus and the Church. And the Spirit gives us gifts to do it!
The Teams of our Lady have been on retreat this weekend; it has been my joy to lead them as they learn more about how to live a life of virtue. A life of power and discipline. We spoke about the seven gifts of the Spirit: knowledge, understanding, wisdom, counsel, fortitude, fear of the Lord and piety. Pope St. Gregory the Great said, “The Holy Spirit gives knowledge against ignorance, understanding against dullness, wisdom against foolishness, counsel against rashness, fortitude against fear, fear of the Lord against pride, and piety against hardness of heart.”
And with those gifts, we in turn produce the fruit of the Spirit! Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. We produce this fruit for a world that is hungry–starving even. Friends, without the Holy Spirit we cannot do anything! In fact, that’s what St. Paul told the Corinthians in today’s second reading. He said, “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is amazing! He is the Lord the giver of life, proceeds from the father and the son, is adored and glorified, and has spoken through the prophets! (Sound familiar?) The Spirit made Christ present in Mary’s womb, makes Christ present in the Eucharist, in the Scriptures proclaimed, and in the Priest through whom God continues to forgive sins, welcoming sinners home, and making us amazing again.
The Spirit makes water holy, oil holy, and moly holy! I’m not even sure what moly is but I bet it’s amazing! Holy Moly, holy cows, holy smoke, and holy mackerel are just a hint about how God is transforming the world. The truth is that Pentecost is a reminder that each of us has received God’s Spirit and It’s gifts, and have been made holy. We are called to join God each day in His work of renewing the earth.
Red Stripe may or may not help men dance, but the Spirit of God does indeed make his Church and all it touches, amazing. Each day when we rise, we pray the words of the Psalmist, “Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth,” and He does it with us…through us…through me…starting today. Go out there and be amazing! Bring love and light and goodness and truth. The world is still dark. Bring them the light. Bring them the transforming fire of God’s love.