The Acts of the Apostles records the life and struggles of the early Christian communities. The execution of Stephen in Jerusalem caused a scattering of the disciples. My father used to say, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.” It was through this scattering of the Christian community in Jerusalem that the faith was brought to other communities, Jewish and Gentile. In the Acts we read of the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in the first years of the church. We read of deeds and wonders that are not part of our experiences. When Peter and John laid hands over those Samaritans who had been baptized by Philip, they were blessed with the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
We all received the Holy Spirit when we were baptized. St. Paul teaches that when we were baptized the Holy Spirit was poured into our very being and empowered by that Spirit we are bold enough to call God, Father. In one of the prayers for the feast of Pentecost we pray, “And that we might live no longer for ourselves but for Him, He sent the Holy Spirit from you Father to complete His work on earth and bring us the fullness of grace.”
I tell the student preparing for Confirmation that Baptism makes us the receiver of gifts but Confirmation makes us the doer of deeds. It is the presence of the Holy Spirit in us that helps us break out of and overcome our innate selfishness and go out to those in need. It is the Holy Spirit who nudges us, coaches us to do things for others. The Holy Spirit is at work in our lives as the Spirit offers us passing suggestions to make a phone call, make a visit, send a note, offer a word or admiration or congratulations to someone, offer an apology or graciously accept an apology.
We are in the midst of the very important yearly appeal of ShareLife. As you know, the money raised by this appeal helps countless men, women, and children in our Archdiocese. The motto of this year’s appeal is stated in the simple words, “Because You Give.” Because you give much good can be done. Because you give young people are helped and healed in places like Covenant House or Mary’s Place. Because you give the poor, hungry and homeless are helped by St. Vincent de Paul and Good Shepherd Centre. Because you give the agencies of Catholic Charities can keep their doors open and do their good work. The good people who cook the casseroles for the Good Shepherd Centre had a pot luck supper a while back and one of the workers from the Centre spoke about all the good that is done at the Centre, especially with the help of volunteers and the assistance of ShareLife.
As I mentioned in my letter to you on ShareLife, last year we mailed out some 1800 Share Life appeals. Only 505 families responded. In other words only 23% of the parish contributed to this important appeal. When you stop to think about it, this is not very impressive, in fact it’s embarrassing.
In any appeal that comes our way we always ask that you be as generous as your own means allow. You know your own financial obligations and you have to take these into consideration. I suggested in my letter that every family in the parish give $50.00 to ShareLife. I suggest this again.
There was a song that was popular during the Depression in the 1930s, Buddy Can You Spare a Dime? I’m asking you, in the name of the men, women and children who will be helped, because you give, can you spare $50.00? If you still have your Share Life envelope at home or if you need one they are available on the tables in the church. Please use them.
As we continue this Mass we can pray for each other that the Holy Spirit, given to us so that we may live no longer for ourselves but for others nudge us, prod us to be part of this important life giving, life changing appeal of ShareLife. Because you give good things happen and good people are helped.