Homily – May 31, 2020

Today we celebrate the wonderful feast of Pentecost. Luke describes the event in our first reading. Together with Mary the mother of Jesus, the disciples were together in prayer but behind locked doors. They feared that the execution of Jesus was just the first step in the efforts of the religious leaders to wipe out the followers of Jesus, especially since the word was out that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Suddenly the room was filled with the sound of a violent wind and strange tongues of fire rested on each of them and each of them was filled with the boldness of the Holy Spirit. Luke’s description of Pentecost insinuates that the Holy Spirit dissipated all their fears and drove the Apostles out of that locked room into a street crowded with pious Jewish pilgrims from around the world and gave them voice to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.

In Paul’s letter to the Christian community in Corinth he writes about the many gifts of the Holy Spirits and tells them these gifts are meant to the good of the whole community. But the Corinthians seemed fixated on the gifts of tongues. Those with had that gift saw themselves as specially blessed over all others. Today most of us get nervous when we hear charismatics and evangelicals talking enthusiastically about being filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. For most of us it’s just not our way.

Most of the time we just plod through our pedestrian spiritual lives with no fireworks.

I think our problem is that we don’t know how to recognize the Spirit’s presence in our lives. I think we experience the Spirit’s presence not just at special moments, but every day of our lives. We just don’t recognize it.

Instead of imaging a bombastic action of the Holy Spirit in our lives, can we imagine that the Holy Spirit quietly nudges us with a little poke, pushing us forward toward a deeper living of our Christian lives? The Spirit may poke us to be patient when a spouse of an elderly parent asks the same question over and over or they can’t remember where they left their glasses or their hearing aids, or their teeth.

The Spirit may nudge us to be more patient with ourselves as we cope with being socially restricted or find ourselves getting uptight with not having anything to do and feeling useless. We might be nudged to get out of the house and take a walk and get a breath of fresh air

The Spirit may nudge us sit and think or nudge us to just sit, trusting the world is in God’s hand. We may be nudged to turn off the depressing daily news reports every now and then. Who needs it?

The Spirit could give us a poke, push, a nudge in these days of boredom to say the rosary or read a bit of scripture. It might be a nudge to say a prayer for those suffering this virus and those who care for them and say a pray for those taken by this virus and those who mourn for them.

As we celebrate this great feast we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we be blessed to feel and respond to that nudge, that poke of the Holy Spirit that pushes us out of own concerns to be there for others.