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May 24, 2015

A Toddler in Mass: “Mommy, I need to go home.  I’m going to go to sleep in a second!  Please, I’m dying!  It’s making me have a stomachache!”

After Mass the mother told her priest how she finally got her son to sit still and be quiet.  About half way through the homily, she leaned over and whispered, “If you don’t be quiet, Father Philip is going to lose his place and the Holy Spirit will take over then we will be here until noon!”


The Pentecost story comes out of St Luke's Acts of the Apostles. His nimble prose is almost a day by day history of the early Church. The Acts of Apostles are a historian's delight. The word Pentecost, incidentally, has been borrowed from the Jews. So too are many other important elements in our Liturgy. We owe much to the Jews and their genius. Above all else, we borrowed Jesus from them. If anyone of us is an anti-Semite, we are guilty of both bad manners and short memories.

Originally Pentecost was a great Jewish feast. The Jews never took any gift from God for granted. They spent quality time thanking God for the first crops in their fields. The holy day was celebrated usually fifty days after the Passover.  We celebrate Pentecost fifty days after the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We celebrate not the appearance of tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans in our backyard gardens but rather the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the founding members of Christianity. On this day, our ancestors in the faith were confirmed in the Spirit. The wonderful beauty is that the international Church was born.


At that point Jesus’ followers were without their Leader. Wisely they were running scared. They may have been short on bodies but not brains. They numbered but one hundred forty timid souls - the Apostles, Mary, and unnamed individuals. This was hardly a group equipped to take over the world. Scared to death, they were clinging to each other like a fly to fly paper. They were in a large room which had been the scene of the Last Supper.

It was to these timid souls the Holy Spirit came with his wagon load of gifts. They discovered that Christianity was not designed to be a "Do It Yourself" affair. In charismatic language, they were slain in the Spirit. They began to feel like super strong people. They found themselves ready to take on the cosmos. They heard each other speaking in foreign tongues. These languages would be their passports and visas to evangelize people over the globe.


Many say, "If the Holy Spirit gave us the same gifts, what a job we'd pull off for Christ! We'd turn our town upside down." Well, the good news is that we received the same cornucopia of gifts at our Baptism and Confirmation. These were our own personal Pentecost. The bad news is that we might have never used these gifts. Most of them are buried. The Spirit will assist each of us. He is, "the master of surprises making the impossible possible." He reminds us that it does not require "great people to do great things - just unselfish ones."



Prayer to the Holy Spirit:


Holy Spirit, Lord Divine,

Come from heights of heaven and shine,

Come with blessed radiance bright.


Come, o Father of the poor,

Come, whose treasured gifts ensure,

Come, our heart’s unfailing light.


Of consolers, wisest, best,

And our soul’s mot welcome guest,

Sweet refreshment, sweet repose.


In our labour rest most sweet,

Pleasant coolness in the heat,

Consolation in our woes.


Light most blessed, shine with grace

In our heart’s most sacred place,

Fill your faithful through and through.


Left without your presence here,

Life itself would disappear,

Nothing thrives apart from you.


Cleanse our soiled hearts of sin,

Arid souls refresh within,

Wounded lives to health restore.


Bend the stubborn heart and will,

Melt the frozen, warm the chill,

Guide the wayward home once more!


On the faithful who are true

And profess their faith in you,

In your sevenfold gifts descend!


Give us virtue’s sure reward,

Give us your salvation Lord,

Give joys that never end!