This feast of Pentecost is a lively feast. The imagery found in the scripture is so dynamic, so vibrant; it’s a feast that pulsates with energy, a rushing, violent wind that filled the entire house, tongues of fire darting from person to person. But what is more important is the transformation that took place in each person. They were spirit filled and spirit driven, each one proclaiming the wonderful works of God, each one determined to tell the good news of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen to all who would listen.
St. Paul tells us that at our baptism the Holy Spirit was poured into our hearts, our very being, binding us to God, giving us the courage to God call Father/Mother. Paul reminds us that before the world began God chose us in Christ to be His adopted sons and daughters.
The Holy Spirit was given to us so that we might live no longer for ourselves but for Christ and to complete Christ’s work on earth and bring us to the fullness of grace. From the very beginning the Christian community knew that the Spirit was given to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ. In every Christian community – notice I didn’t say ‘every Catholic community’ – in every Christian community, there is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit and all these gifts are given for building up the community in the bond of peace.
Today, instead of looking back to that first Pentecost maybe we could acknowledge and celebrate how the Holy Spirit is alive and active in our own parish community of St. Gabriel’s.
As you know our parish motto is ‘belonging, believing, becoming.’
I’ve told this story before about a Jewish cantor who was part of a talk show in which young adults were dismissing organized religion and complaining about how they were brainwashed as children. The Cantor shared with these young people his concept of religion. For him religion involved three things: belonging, believing and becoming. I believe that through the years we as a parish family have really tried to make belonging, believing and becoming the very fabric of our parish life.
I think we’ve always tried to make people feel they belong here, we are a welcoming community. We can be proud that our parish family is made up of people from so many different lands and cultures. When people feel they belong they are willing to take ownership, responsibility for the parish. We can see that ownership, responsibility in the way so many of you are involved in ministries in the parish and outside the parish and in the way you actively participate in the celebration of mass.
Religion involves believing – believing involves a desire to develop a trusting relationship with God – thru prayer, thru reading the scriptures, thru the sacraments and in our celebration of the Eucharist. Here too the Spirit is at work, St. Paul tells us it is the Holy Spirit that gives us the voice to say Jesus is Lord – it is the Holy Spirit that makes us want to say of ourselves. “I live now, not I but Christ lives in me and the life I live, I live trusting in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave his life for me.” It is the Holy Spirit that helps us in our efforts to ‘put on Christ’ – live Christ like lives.
Religion involves becoming – we are all called to grow to full maturity in Christ – this is a life time process –and I believe that here at St. Gabriel’s through the many adult education programs we’ve offered we have challenged people to grow in their faith – we’ve challenged people to take responsibility for their life decisions – we accept people where they are in their journey of faith – where they are in their devotional life. We are not all in the same space but we respect where each person is – when as a community grow in our relationship with God.
Christ sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and us that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him that we might complete his work on earth and come to the fullness of grace. As we continue to celebrate this great feast we can pray for ourselves as a parish family that by our efforts to belong, believe and become we will no longer live for ourselves but for others and in the ordinary living of our ordinary lives complete Christ’s work on earth and come to the fullness of grace.