May 31, 2020 at St. Peter the Apostle in Naples, FL
Acts 2, 1-11 + Psalm 104 + 1 Corinthians 12,3-7, 12-13 + John 20, 19-23
The image of the apostles in that room staying there out of uncertainty and fear could easily describe most of us for the past four months. Obviously if Thomas was missing once, they did go out, but perhaps only for food, or perhaps to help the poor. Having promised them that he would send “The Spirit”, Jesus was gone, and I wonder sometimes if they had any idea what the promise meant, or what they were actually waiting for. I honestly believe that if they had been given a choice between keeping Jesus with them or receiving this “Spirit”, they would have elected to keep Jesus. I dare say, if most Catholics were offered a chance to have Jesus present today or having the Spirit, they would choose Jesus. When you stop to really think about it, five minutes with Jesus is something most people would go for, skip the Spirit. But, we really did not get a choice no matter how much any of us would like to have Jesus here again.
What we must awaken to on this glorious feast of Pentecost is the fact that too often too many of us fail to recognize what the Holy Spirit does in our lives, and perhaps more seriously we fail to pray and then fail to acknowledge the work of and the gifts of what Jesus has sent as his last and perfect gift, that Holy Spirit. All of us, when in great need or crises turn to Jesus, some to his mother, some to a favorite patron saint, but I suspect after looking at my own behavior, that not many of us turn to the Holy Spirit in prayer. Maybe we should do something about that.
So many wonderful things happen in our lives by the grace of the Spirit. Compassion, generosity, hospitality, creativity are unmistakable signs that the Holy Spirit is at work within us. The feelings of loneliness and isolation we have all felt this spring are clear signs that the Holy Spirit has called us together, to be one people, one church, one family. I don’t know about you, but my prayer in the last two months has been a prayer to the Holy Spirit to inspire and lead scientists to free us from this contagion. I have prayed to the Holy Spirit to continue to give courage and strength to those working to ease the suffering and save lives of the sick. The wonder and the gift of the Spirit can make us realize that despite our diversity and different social or ethnic identities, we are all one on this earth; one in a humanity that has been touched by divinity. We need to learn how to recognize the Spirit in our lives. Every time we experience love, we experience the Spirit. The trusting and innocent love of children is a sign of the Spirit. People who risk their lives to care for the sick are filled with the Spirit. Those who dedicate their lives to justice and peace or protecting this sacred earth are impelled by the Spirit.
No matter how close we manage to get to Jesus, he will always be external, outside of us. But, with the Holy Spirit, there is something divine inside of us. It is the Spirit that makes us Jesus, makes us the Body of Christ. It’s a good trade off. It is the Spirit that gives us life and fills us with love. It is not enough for us to be with Jesus; we must become Jesus, and that only happens by the power of the Holy Spirit. This holy day helps us focus on what really binds us together as a gifted people. This is more than a liturgical feast; it is an invitation to way of life, and it is the only way to salvation.