Pentecost - Fr. Pete Iorio
May 22, 2021 - 5:30 PM
May 23, 2021 - 8:30 AM
Pentecost is relevant to us today living in the United States of America in the Year of Our Lord 2021. I share four reasons and this list is not exhaustive.
Pentecost is about diversity. Pentecost is about bold proclamation. Pentecost is about courage. Pentecost is about change and new beginnings.
Pentecost is about diversity. At the first Pentecost from the Acts of the Apostles, we read that the Holy Spirit empowered the disciples to speak different languages that they never studied. There are 14 different places mentioned and all those people were together in Jerusalem hearing the apostles speak to them. (Saturday: This reverses the calamity of Babel that we hear about in the first reading.) The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC is called “America’s Catholic Church.” It is filled with chapels from the different immigrant communities to this land, and they highlight the diversity of the Catholic Church in America. I find it beautiful that we have a somewhat diverse community here at Our Lady of Fatima. There are folks from all over the world who live in Blount County and choose to worship as part of this parish family.
Pentecost is about bold proclamation. In the Acts of the Apostles, the Spirit came upon the apostles, and the Holy Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Instead of hiding from Jews who persecuted them (as we see in today’s Gospel passage,) the Holy Spirit empowered them to speak publicly a challenging message.
The Church and members of the Church do this bold proclamation when we speak out against injustice; when we act in solidarity with those who are marginalized and oppressed, and when we care about victims of wars, violence and natural disasters.
Pentecost is about courage. Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you. The Holy Spirit empowered the apostles not to be afraid to proclaim Jesus Christ Crucified and risen from the dead and to be in solidarity with all of those people they could communicate with. They were not afraid to undergo suffering in their own lives to share the loving message of hope and compassion that Jesus taught them and showed them. The root word in courage is the Latin word cor meaning heart. People with courage have the heart with its life force and also have the heart which symbolizes love to do as Jesus did by having a preferential option for the poor.
Pentecost is about change and new beginnings. We are coming out of the pandemic that brought lots of changes to our lives and to our worship. Change is good. It may not be easy, but when we welcome the Holy Spirit, we can accept change as God’s presence.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to go out and be the change they wanted the world to be… a world of peace and justice for all people, to live in radical poverty and to share things with all in the community so that no one would go without. Change is hard because it forces us to grow and move out of our comfort zones.
The Holy Spirit bestows different gifts on all of us (Sunday: as we hear in the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.) When these gifts come together for a common purpose, beautiful things happen. It was great to see so many people come out today/yesterday to spruce up our church. We also had a good number of people who put labels on the candles for our Pentecost gift to you. These gifts are emblematic of the renewal we are praying for and encouraging in our new beginning post COVID-19.
So I conclude by praying the prayer that was written by parishioners and is on the candle: “Jesus, our light and our life, we thank You for the gift of Your great Love. As we light this candle in our homes, we ask that You dispel the darkness of our night. Gather our community together as Your Body, the Church. Strengthen our faith. Give us courage to meet you in the poor, the sick, and those in need. Send us your Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth. We ask this in Your Holy Name, Amen.”