Pentecost – Fr. Bill McNeeley
June 8, 2019 – 5:00PM
June 9, 2019 – 8:30AM
Over the last seven weeks since the Resurrection, we have heard how the community of believers has gathered in one place to await the Father’s promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. They could not have known what to expect, so they spent their time in prayer. Suddenly the sound of a mighty wind fills the room. It is reminiscent of the wind that swept over the waters of the Earth when God brought forth creation in the book of Genesis. Here a new creation is about to take place, and tongues of fire rest on each one present. This dramatic image anticipates the unique gift each will receive to become the Lord’s witness in the world.
What gifts do we have to offer in thanksgiving for our salvation which Jesus won on our behalf? In the first reading the Holy Spirit fills the house with the gift of proclamation in many and varied ways. While outside the home, these Galilean followers of Jesus give testimony about God’s mighty acts in the work of salvation. This leads to confusion, not because those speaking different languages could not understand others but because they could. In the love of Christ language presents no barrier because Jesus’s followers know that they must rely on God and not on themselves and ultimately not even on one another.
The disciples know only too well their own weaknesses and shortcomings and they understand that left to their own devices and desires they will fail. Only by putting God first can they, that is we, be assured of success in pleasing God and enjoying eternal life with him. As such the story of Pentecost is the inverse of the story of the Tower of Babel. There man thought he could build a tower to the skies and through their own efforts, become like God. That is what our culture is like where the objective truth that is God is replaced by subjective feelings and our own ideas and assumptions. Only by surrendering our lives to Christ can we please God and find eternal blessedness. Even in his time Paul knew that the time would come when people would not endure sound teaching, but with itching ears, they would attract for themselves teachers that suit their own devices and desires. We must teach our children that such happiness is an illusion. We must teach to them what the church has taught for the last 2000 years and prepare future generations with the sound teachings that are of Jesus Christ.
When a child is born, no one can know what that child’s future holds. We can have some general ideas of what we might hope or anticipate, but no one can say for sure what experiences will influence the child’s growth and development. Nor can we know what choices that child will make or the seemingly random occurrences that will affect their lives. We must teach our children about the love of Jesus Christ. Rest assured, there are plenty of people out there who want to teach them the world’s itching ears theology.
Our job as parents is to give our children direction, appropriate boundaries, and most of all a love for Jesus that will help them to overcome the hardships that come their way that they may grow into the person God intends. We may want our children to go to law school or medical school or some other esteemed vocation. Eventually, parents have to let their children make their own choices in life. We cannot know where the Lord will take our children in life or ultimately what they will do. In the gospel, the disciples receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which is also what happens when the gift of the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the confirmand. Our vocation as parents is to instill in our children the knowledge and love of the Lord that will sustain them for a lifetime.
Two thousand years later, we gather in this house of God. Like the early disciples of Jesus, we find solace in communal prayer. We crave the words of Jesus as we feast at his table. We live in a world of uncertainty and of opposing rhetoric. Like them, we find strength in community, but most of all, we have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ’s sacrifice and sealed in his Spirit. We may not feel the strong, driving wind or see the tongues fire, but the promised Paraclete is here dwelling among us. Our Lord has given each one of us unique and varied gifts for the building up of God’s Kingdom. That same Spirit of Jesus is empowering you to go out and boldly proclaim the Good News that is Jesus Christ. All things are being made new from the foundation of the world to the depth of our soul. Now that is something to shout about in any language.