homily – May 27

Pentecost Sunday

On April 24th Bishop Greco celebrated the Sacrament of Confirmation with the young people of the parish. This week I visited the school and asked the students what they remembered most about their Confirmation. They all remembered the first words of Bishop Greco’s homily when he spoke about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He told the students, ‘You don’t deserve them. They are gifts and gifts are freely given. We aren’t owed them and we can’t earn them, they are freely given.”

In the fourth Eucharist Prayer used for this 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 as His first gift to those who believe, to complete His work on earth and bring us to the fullness of grace.”

The presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives is a gift, something we can’t claim, something we did not earn. The Spirit’s gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Awe and Wonder are given to us to help us in our daily struggles to live our Christian lives.

Today people from around the city will be coming to visit our church of St. Gabriel’s. We have been invited to participate in Doors Open Toronto. People will come to see Canada’s first ‘Green Church” Our new church has been given wonderful write-ups in the Globe and in the Star.

But the intention of the Passionists in building our ‘green church’ was that the ‘green church’ would help us become ‘green people’. Our ‘green church’ is meant to sensitize us through our garden, our living wall, and the way the sun light plays on our cement walls, to the wonder of God’s good creation. Our ‘green church’ is meant to help us appreciate our connectedness with all other life systems on the planet. Our ‘green church’ is meant to help us reflect on our own personal life styles, our consciousness as to what we purchase, how we deal with our garbage, our use of chemicals and the impact these all have on the health and beauty of Earth. Our ‘green church’ can make us aware of our need to use the Holy Spirit’s gift of awe and wonder, awe and wonder at God’s beauty manifested in the awesomeness of creation. As the psalm sings,” the heavens proclaim the glory of God, the vault of heaven proclaims God’s handiwork.”

We can be stunned by the brilliance of a sunrise or a sunset or the stars that brighten the night, but do we have awe and wonder at the intricacy of a spider web or a violet or the smallest of insects? In awe and wonder can we grasp, how fragile are the life systems of the planet?

Because we can’t spray our lawns have you noticed the bumper crop of dandelions in the area? The playground at Elkhorn school is bright with the yellow of the humble dandelion – a flower we’ve declared a weed, a pest, an intrusion into our well kept lawns. Imagine for a second the life communities of Earth declaring the human species, us, as the dandelions of the planet, a pest that spoils the beauty of Earth. A weed run rampant, taking over the space of others, exterminating other life species. In a way that is what we humans have become an intruding force in the balance and well being of the planet.

Our green church is meant to make us more conscious of our need to enter into a more mutually life enhancing relationship with Earth, a relationship that enriches our lives and the life of the planet, a relationship that put us into a win win situation with Earth instead of the lose lose relationship which we now have with Earth.

As we continue to celebrate this feast and Eucharist of Pentecost we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we appreciate and use the Spirit’s gift of awe and wonder as we seek to deepen and heal our relationship with God’s good creation.