June 5, 2022 at Saint William Catholic Church in Naples, FL
Acts of the Apostles 2, 1-11 + Psalm 104 + 1 Corinthians 12, 3-7, 12-13 + John 20, 19-23
As long as we continue to read, listen to, and proclaim the Gospel as though it is about someone else or that what we read is some kind of historical report, we have no place to go, nothing to do, and for that matter, we have no future, and things in this world, our world will just always be the same. There will simply be anger and division, more losers than winners, a shinking church, and a world divided, suspicious, unjust, and probably violent. As long as anyone of us hears this Gospel proclaimed during the Sacred Liturgy and thinks that Jesus is talking to a group of people hiding in a Jerusalem safe-house, nothing that keeps the Kingdom of God from breaking into our lives will ever change.
Jesus Christ speaks to each one of us when we are here. We are not just one of a crowd, nameless, faceless numbers. In Luke’s Gospel that fire seperted and settled over each person in that room. the command of his mission is entrusted to every one of us. The fire of Pentecost singles each of us out, gives each of us a face and a name, a value and dignity, a purpose that is truly individual and truly unique.
What we have here is a reenactment of creation. At that moment in Genesis the human vocation was to be stewards of all creation, and nothing has changed that command. Creation is ours to care for and not just the environment which we ought to take more seriously, but other human beings as well. There is no one on this earth beyond our responsibility. At some moment today, and every day, we will be called upon, in our own way, to bring the power of the Holy Spirit to bear upon the task of building up and nurturing the people of God.
We might have a chance to just listen to someone who needs to talk without rolling our eyes, wondering when they will stop, or looking at our watch. We might have the opportunity to thank someone who is always being taken for granted. We might simply be given the chance to laugh and help someone else laugh and make their day more pleasant. A sense of humor is a divine power, and so is a sense of beauty that allows us to be more sensitive not about our own feelings, but toward someone else who is hurt.
Over and above that, the clearest sign that the Holy Spirit is present is courage, and that seems to be in short supply. It was fear that kept those Apostles huddled in that room before Pentecost, and the first effective sign of the Holy Spirit was that they acted in spite of their fear.
A people filled with the Holy Spirit are never silent in the face of wrong doing. They cannot be silent in the face of violence or hatred. They speak the truth because they know the truth. Wisdom and Understanding leads them to know the difference between an opinion, a lie, and the truth, and they will never settle for anything short of the truth.
Two miracles seem to have happened on that first day of Pentecost. The Scriptures do not just say that the Apostles spoke new languages. It says that they were understood. Whenever I think about this, I recall old Father Wade Darnall who was a mentor to me early in my priesthood. He did not speak one word of Spanish, but served a people who did not speak English. They loved him, and they knew that he loved them. There are ways of speaking without words that we sometimes forget about. As we pray today that the Holy Spirit will fill us and renew us, we might well pray again for that gift of understanding that sometimes is more important than the gift of tongues. When we begin to really understand who we are and what we are as God’s people, chosen, and loved, a lot of things will be different, and we might just be closer to the Kingdom of God.