Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Gift of the Holy Spirit (Sunday Homily)

(Dear visitor: your specific comments and questions, favorable or not, are very welcome and would be most helpful to me. How else can I know whether what I'm preparing is heard, is effective? Thanks!)

What difference might the Holy Spirit make in your Advent, and your Christmas?

Isaiah said, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me”; St. Paul said: “Do not quench the Spirit!”

St. John the Baptist was sent by the Holy Spirit, to announce that Christ was coming, and would baptize us in the Holy Spirit.

When you’re driving from home, to the mall, to the store, to the school--when the weather is nasty to boot—what difference might the Holy Spirit make for you?

“Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing,” Paul says.

Do you pray in the car when you drive? I do. I confess I’m not always my best self behind the wheel. When I have a rosary in my hand, it’s a little harder to shake a fist at someone!

If you’re thinking about what presents to get folks, here’s a gift you and I can give everyone, without cost, and no need for any wrapping: Give the gift of faith!

Share your joy, when others are frazzled. Share your hope when others are fearful. Share your mercy when feelings are hurt.

Sometimes this can be a stressful time, sometimes we can feel blue, and discouraged.

The other day, I read about an image of the Virgin Mary that is taken, on a journey each year, from Mexico to New York City. Along the way, they stop at churches and homes, and people can come and pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

As you might imagine, this is a source of encouragement for the many Mexican immigrants living in this country.

Whatever views we have about immigration issues, the fact remains there are folks in our midst, usually poor; if illegal, then they have few protections; they often aren’t welcome; they don’t speak the language; they are far from home.

Either their families are far away, or here, with them, facing a cold Christmas and difficult times.

Remember, Mary, Joseph and Jesus were likewise refugees—they fled to Egypt, where they had no papers, they didn’t speak the language, and they were far from home, as well.

Tomorrow is the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe; our mother Mary cares deeply about our immigrant brothers and sisters in our midst; and so should we. *

I’m not sure what you and I might do to help them. Being aware, being open to the Spirit’s lead, is the first step.

In years to come, you and I—this parish—will have opportunities to bring glad tidings to the poor, whether native-born, or immigrants, in our midst.

Back before Thanksgiving, I was talking to someone who was discouraged—she feared no one would invite her for Thanksgiving.

I suggested she do the inviting—have people over; or, she could plan to go do something to help others.

Folks who spent their Thanksgiving serving meals at El Sombrero weren’t alone, and I bet they weren’t discouraged! Instead, they were “bringing glad tidings to the poor.”

When Christmas Day comes, it may be that things will slow down—maybe you’re looking forward to that, as I am! May I suggest that, if you want something to do that week—something to keep the kids busy—there are folks in the nursing homes for whom merely a visit would be pure gold.

The Bethany Center will be glad for your help. They’d love someone to come and cook a meal—they’ll provide the food—and then you can help serve it.

What difference might you make, this year, led by the Holy Spirit?

This Thursday we’ll have our Penance Service—going to confession is a great way to be baptized again, as it were, in the Holy Spirit.

This might be a good time to call someone and say, “I want to let go of what happened.”

I said a moment ago that we need not spend money to give good gifts to others.

But there are some gifts that do require money. If God has blessed us with a surplus, we might consider giving some of that to the second collection today for retired sisters and brothers.

Remember: nuns and brothers, and some—not all—priests take a special vow of poverty.
They gave up their possessions, their checking accounts and savings,
and now, in old age, must rely on the generosity of others for a place to live and for health care.

Please be generous as you can today. And not for myself; this is for members of religious orders—on their behalf, thank you!

This time of year, we’re thinking about gifts: what will we get? Or, what to get?

God is offering us the Gift of the Holy Spirit. You and I don’t have to wait for Christmas to unwrap the Gift; and there’s no reason to hold back
from sharing this Gift with others around us.

* If this part sounds familiar, it's because you read Father Jim Tucker's comments at Dappled Things. I apologize for not giving him credit when I posted this earlier.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your homilies.
I usually read them a few times. Posting allows us to revisit and to think about different parts. It is easy for me at Mass to remember the general point or teaching but more difficult to remember specifics or even the secondary or tertiary ideas. I remember well what I don't like and do like but sometimes it is what I feel to be the lukewarm part of the homiliy that actually has a little more heat when I can reflect on it again.

This is also why a minute of silence before we rush into the creed at Mass is very useful.

I hope that you will continue to post your sermons. They may not always generate many comments on your blog but they are read.