Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The two ways the Holy Spirit helps us (Pentecost homily)

I want to begin with a statement not from today’s readings, 
but from last week, 
when we recalled Jesus’ ascending to his throne in heaven. 
Last week, we heard Jesus say to the Apostles: 
“Stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high” – 
that power is the Holy Spirit; 
and the giving of that power is what Pentecost is about.

What does this Power do?

In the reading from Paul, he emphasizes power to change – 
the power to be a different person.

Recently I read a book called “Living the Truth in Love” –
it examined issues regarding the attraction
sometimes people of the same sex feel toward each other.

And part of the book included stories of people
who had “lived that life”; they had rejected God,
and in some cases, they were Catholics who rejected their baptism.

But they found their way back to the Faith,
and they found the power to live chaste lives,
according to the teaching of Jesus Christ.
And not feeling empty, because of what they’d given up;
but living full lives, full of God’s love.

That is “power from on high.”

One of the things the men and women I read about emphasized
was important for them was the power of the sacrament of confession. 

These folks, just like most, if not all, of us, know what it is like to try, and fail; 
try, and fail; try and fail again.
And many times, the temptation is to give up.

I know someone – actually, several someones –
who faced an addiction to ugly materials on the Internet.
Same story: always stumbling.
And at one point, he just came to believe
he would never overcome his bad habit.
And for a time, he didn’t even go to confession.

But a funny thing happened.
He may have given up on the power of the Holy Spirit,
but the Holy Spirit didn’t give up on him. He started back,
going to confession.
He looked around for ideas, and ways, to break his pornography habit. 

And step by step, he was able to overcome it, and leave it behind.
As I said, I know several people who can tell that story.

Power from on high.

But I don’t want to make it sound easy to change; it’s not.
It would make things so easy if only the Holy Spirit
would just take over, and change us, while we just watched.
But it doesn’t happen that way.
Peter and the Apostles received the fullness of the Holy Spirit
only after first making a choice to follow Jesus –
and in most cases, to leave everything behind –
and they had to go through the dark night of the Cross.
And even after that, they were gathered together,
and praying intensely, before the outpouring came.

The Power will come –
but it won’t let us off the hook from doing our part.

When Jesus told the Apostles to pray for that power,
there was something else at work.
He said: “you will be my witnesses, in Jerusalem,
in Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

So this is the other power the Holy Spirit gives us: to bear witness.

That group of believers that was gathered in the upper room,
in Jerusalem, that day, was the Apostles, the Blessed Mother,
and some other believers, 120 people in total.

One hundred and twenty people,
versus the religious establishment of their day.
One hundred and twenty, against the might of the Roman Empire.
A hundred and twenty people, facing the whole world.

Who prevailed? Not the world; but the Power from on High!

The same Holy Spirit who powered the Church 

outward and forward from that day till now, 
is giving his strength to martyrs right now.

If ever you think you can’t find the strength
to speak up for your faith, and take a stand,
think of the Christians who are suffering so terribly
throughout the world right now.
The Holy Spirit is giving them courage, and he will do the same for you, 

if you ask, and if you really want it.

I want to describe two opportunities we will have, in Russia,
to bear witness.
In two weeks it will be Corpus Christi,
and as before, we’ll have a procession with the Blessed Sacrament.

Think of what a powerful statement it makes,
especially to our neighbors who aren’t Catholic,
or who aren’t active in their faith, when they see a huge turnout
to honor our Lord in the Eucharist.

And I want to give a special invitation
to an event for all the men of the parish, of all ages.

As I mentioned in the bulletin, I want to revive an ancient tradition,
in which the parish priest, and the men of the parish,
walk the boundaries of the parish.
The purpose was both to reach out to the people of the parish,
as well as to pray for the parish.

I’m asking men and boys – all ages –
to join me on Friday, June 24, at 5:30 pm.
We’ll meet here,
and then we have transportation out to Redmond Road,
and we’ll walk for 90 minutes.

For anyone who can’t walk the whole way, we’ll have a ride for you.
And while we walk and ride, we will be praying.
Then we’ll return here for a cookout.

Why am I giving this call to men in particular?
Because there is a need for men to provide spiritual leadership,
and this is your invitation.
The task of men is to guard, to guide, and to give.
I am asking you to join me
in praying for everyone in our parish boundaries.
Over several years, we’ll eventually walk the entire 25 miles
it takes to circle the parish. Will you join me?

The power from on high – the Holy Spirit – is still being poured out.
But remember, Jesus was counting on his disciples, then,
to pray and do what the Holy Spirit led them to do.
It’s the same today.


Jackie said...

Fabulous homily! Best of yours in a long time and I think all of yours are good! And really really really great idea to lead the men in the parish to guard and defend the parish and to walk and pray it's boundary! You're a good Dad and leader and are doing your job of working and guarding the garden as a priest! And, I know it's close - so Happy Annoversary of your Ordination. Thanks for saying Yes to His Call.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was outstanding also