May 23, 2021 at Mary Mother of Light Maronite Church in Jupiter, FL & Saint Agnes Church in Naples, FL
Acts 2, 1-11 + Psalm 104 + Galatians 5, 16-25 + John 20,19-23
The secular world in which we now live and struggle to keep our faith alive has already taken over Christmas that now begins immediately after Halloween. It has become little more than a shopping spree for way too many people. Easter is dissolving into a giant Easter Egg Hunt and a day to dress up and look for a church. Any church will do if there’s room. Fortunately, this day, Pentecost, has yet to capture the imagination of the secular world, leaving us to celebrate it without distractions, advertisements, promotions and sales. It is a deeply spiritual day commemorating the most powerful spiritual experience making it difficult to commercialize. It celebrates an event that gives Christmas and Easter a purpose. After all, why would God choose to take on human flesh if it were for just a short while? Why would Christ rise from a tomb and return to the Father except to perfect us and empower us with the very Spirit that draws us into the relationship of the Trinity as children of God?
Those of us in churches today have good news to share for a world that grows weary of division, hatred, and negativity. The news is the saving power of a God who is always with us. This news is of a God whose Spirit impowers us to bring light where there is darkness and hope to people who have given up. That Spirit leads us out of confinement and fear just as those first disciples were led out of that upper room no longer fearful to embrace new possibilities.
Pentecost is not for dour wanna-be saints who are looking for penance and suffering to prove their holiness. Pentecost is for dreamers, passionate explorers who want to live fully and come home empty. The Holy Spirit is Lord and Giver of Life to anyone who believes that God is love, and that Jesus showed us that the way to find your life is to give it up in loving service for others. We are not a people just baptized with water. We are a people baptized in that Spirit. Water cleanses, but Fire transforms. Why just go for the water when you can live your life filled with wind and fire?
Too many still hide in fear or doubt. Too many still plod through life with no hint of joy to excite and inspire others to seek the Lord. Too many are put down, broken, and discouraged by things that happen in this world. We cannot be counted among them and be worthy of the price Jesus paid for our salvation by hanging out in church. We are, because of the Holy Spirit, a people of Joy. We are a people with gifts. We have the wisdom to recognize the importance of others and the importance of keeping God central in our lives. Wisdom allows us to recognize truth. We have the understanding to know the meaning of God’s message. We have the knowledge to think about, explore, and imagine God’s revelation in Jesus Christ, and we can recognize and live with things that are beyond us. We have the gift of Counsel that provides us with the ability to make right judgements and see the best way to follow God’s plan when there are choices. We have the fortitude and courage to do what is right. We have the piety that draws us into true devotion. And, we have Fear of the Lord which is nothing more than amazement and wonder before God whose friendship we do not want to lose.
What we celebrate today is power, God’s power. In an attempt to describe what was happening, Luke speaks of a mighty wind, a violent wind. In other words, a kind of Holy Hurricane that sweeps through and blows away anything that is not rooted and firmly set in a faithful heart. What we celebrate today is also, change, something we often resist because of fear or just plain laziness. But change for faithful people is conversion that comes from recognizing and choose the will of God over our own will. It’s a day to rejoice. It’s a day to celebrate freedom from everything that holds us back from being and living like children of God. It’s a day sing and play, laugh, and pray. It’s a day to remember that no matter what we will never be alone.