Homily – June 4, 2017

This is a feast of empowerment and enlightenment. The image of a mighty wind swirling around the upper room tells of power. The tongues of fire settling on Mary and the apostles tell of enlightenment. Enlightened and empowered the gifted apostles boldly unlocked the doors of their room and went out into the streets to proclaim Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Savior of all people. In tongues they never knew before they proclaimed the mighty works of God.

The Holy Spirit enlivens and enriches the church, men and women in every age with the Spirit’s gifts of wisdom and understanding, the gifts of courage and fortitude and a sense of awe before the Lord. These are not personal gifts meant to be kept to oneself, they are gifts given to enrich the whole Christian community.

In years past the opening prayer for this feast of Pentecost prayed that the Holy Spirit ‘Broaden the horizons of our minds’ so that we may see the dignity and worth of every person who comes into our lives. Broaden the horizons of our minds and enable us to be thankful for the blessing with which we are blessed. Broaden the horizons of our minds and help us to be more sensitive to struggles of the homeless, the under-employed and under-paid men and women living in Toronto. Broaden the horizons of our minds and help us to be more aware of the beauty and the frailty of God’s good creation and work for the healing of Earth. Broaden the horizons of our minds and help us deepen our faith in Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave his life for us.

There are men and women who are in the charismatic movement who sometimes experience the wonder of that first Pentecost, who pray in the Spirit or speak in tongues and heal and prophecy. This Pentecost Pope Francis is greeting a couple of hundred thousand Christian charismatics from around the world to Rome. They held a vigil in praise and prayer last evening in the Circus Maximus. This will be an ecumenical celebration. These pilgrims of Pentecost will be with the Pope tomorrow as he celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s square. I was at a similar meeting back in 1975 when Pope Paul VI met with charismatics from around the world.

There were many songs of praise and much speaking in tongues. It was all very impressive but I have to admit I wasn’t all that comfortable with it. As we say in golf ‘different strokes for different folks.’

I survive with the conviction that the Holy Spirit works in most of our lives by nudging us, a little push now and then to be more patient, kind or understanding towards spouses, children. Maybe the Spirit nudges us to make a phone call, drop a note, or make a visit to a house bound friend. The Spirit gives us the patience we need to be more understanding of aging spouses or parents who forget who they are or even where they are and test our patience with their repeated questions. Maybe we are touched by the idea to pray for people with cancer, especially children. Maybe we are nudged toward a deeper consciousness of the unfairness and desperation that darkens the lives of so many people. Pray that the Spirit bless with an attitude of gratitude for the blessings in our lives. I like to think this is how the Holy Spirit is alive and well in us in the ordinary living of our ordinary lives.

On this feast of Pentecost we pray for ourselves and for each other that the Holy Spirit empower and enlighten us and give us the strength to live lives faithful to the teachings of Jesus our Christ.