Solemnity of Pentecost Year A ~ May 28, 2023
HOLY SPIRIT- SOURCE OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost: descending of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. It’s a celebration of the birth of the Universal Church as well. This is the new beginning for disciples and for us as well because this is the day when the disciples received the Holy Spirit and became fearless witnesses to Jesus’s love.
St. Paul in writing to Romans opens the mystery of our new beginning: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason, the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you. So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him” (8:5-17).
St. Irenaeus’ writing against the heresies of his time, explains the mystery of the Pentecost: When the Lord told his disciples to go and teach all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he conferred on them the power of giving men new life in God. He had promised through the prophets that in these last days he would pour out his Spirit on his servants and handmaids, and that they would prophesy. So, when the Son of God became the Son of Man, the Spirit also descended upon him, becoming accustomed in this way to dwelling with humanity, to living in men and to inhabiting God’s creation. The Spirit accomplished the Father’s will in men who had grown old in sin and gave them new life in Christ. Luke says that the Spirit came down on the disciples at Pentecost, after the Lord’s ascension, with power to open the gates of life to all nations and to make known to them the new covenant. So it was that men of every language joined in singing one song of praise to God, and scattered tribes, restored to unity by the Spirit, were offered to the Father as the first fruits of all the nations.
This was why the Lord had promised to send the Advocate: he was to prepare us as an offering to God. Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven. And like parched ground, which yields no harvest unless it receives moisture, we who were once like a waterless tree could never have lived and borne fruit without this abundant rainfall from above. Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay we have become one in body; through the Spirit we have become one in soul.
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God came down upon the Lord, and the Lord in turn gave this Spirit to his Church, sending the Advocate from heaven into all the world into which, according to his own words, the devil too had been cast down like lightning.
Every Sunday afternoon, after the morning service at their church, the Pastor and his 11-year-old son would go out into their town and hand out Gospel tracts. One particular Sunday afternoon, as it came time for the Pastor and his son to go to the streets with their tracts, it was very cold outside as well as pouring down rain. The boy bundled up in his warmest and driest clothes and said “Okay Dad, I’m ready. “His Pastor Dad asked, “Ready for what? “Dad, it’s time we gather our tracts together and go out. “Dad responds, “Son, it’s very cold outside, and it’s pouring down rain.” The boy gives his Dad a surprised look, asking, “But Dad, aren’t people still going to Hell, even though it’s raining?” Dad answers, “Son, I am not going out in this weather.”
Despondently the boy asks, “Dad, can I go? Please?” His father hesitated for a moment but said, “You can go. Here are the tracts; be careful, son.” “Thanks Dad!”
And with that, he was off and out into the rain. This 11-year-old boy walked the streets of the town, going door-to-door and handing everybody, he met in the street a Gospel tract. After hours of walking in the rain, he was soaking bone-chilled wet and down to his very last tract. He stopped on a corner and looked for someone to hand a tract to, but the streets were totally deserted.
Then, he turned toward the first home he saw and started up the sidewalk to the front door and rang the doorbell. He rang the bell, but nobody answered. He rang it again and again, but still no one answered. He waited, but still no answer. Finally, this 11-year-old trooper turned to leave, but something stopped him. Again, he turned to the door and rang the bell and knocked loudly on the door with his fist. He waited, something holding him there on the front porch. He rang again, and this time the door slowly opened. Standing in the doorway was a very sad-looking elderly lady.
She softly asked, “What can I do for you, son? “With radiant eyes and a smile that lit up her world, this little boy said, “Ma’am, I’m sorry if I disturbed you, but I just want to tell you that JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU! I came to give you my very last Gospel tract which will tell you all about Jesus and His great love.” With that, he handed her his last tract and turned to leave.
She called to him as he departed, “Thank you, son! And God bless you! “The following Sunday morning in church, Pastor Dad was in the pulpit and as the service began, he asked, “Does anybody have a testimony or want to say anything?”
Slowly, in the back row of the church, an elderly lady stood to her feet. As she began to speak, a look of glorious radiance came from her face. ” My husband passed on some time ago, leaving me totally alone in this world. There was no point for me to live and I decided to end my life. When suddenly, the loud ringing of my doorbell downstairs startled me. I thought, ‘I’ll wait a minute, and whoever it is will go away.’ I waited and waited, but the ringing doorbell seemed to get more insistent and then the person ringing also started knocking loudly. I thought to myself again, ‘Who on earth could this be?! Nobody ever rings my bell or comes to see me!’ I loosened the rope from my neck and started for the front door. All the while, the bell rang louder and louder. When I opened the door and looked, I could hardly believe my eyes! There on my front porch was the most radiant and angelic little boy I had ever seen in my life! His smile! Oh, I could never describe it to you! And the words that came from his mouth caused my heart, that had long been dead, to leap to life as he exclaimed with a cherub-like voice, ‘Ma’am, I just came to tell you that JESUS REALLY DOES LOVE YOU.’
If we are not to be scorched and made unfruitful, we need the dew of God. Since we have our accuser, we need an advocate as well. And so, the Lord in his pity for man, who had fallen into the hands of brigands, having himself bound up his wounds and left for his care two coins bearing the royal image, entrusted him to the Holy Spirit. Now, through the Spirit, the image and inscription of the Father and the Son have been given to us, and it is our duty to use the coin committed to our charge and make it yield a rich profit for the Lord.
The Solemnity of Pentecost encourages us to leave our old ways of life and strive for a new beginning. Just imagine if disciples would have stayed behind the closed doors of the room, then what would have happened: no more Christian faith neither the mention of Jesus’ name? Though there was fear, but Holy Spirit made the disciples open the door from inside to go out but not someone came to open the door for them from outside. In similar way, Holy Spirit invites us to open the closed doors of our hearts from inside to let Jesus come in as St. Paul says, “even we don’t know how to pray but the Holy Spirit intercede for us and teaches us to call God; Abba, the Father”. To make it understand more deeply about our new beginning, let me share with you the following interesting story:
The Creator created people, gave them words for communication and thinking, settled them in the fertile valley at the foot of the mountains, gave them longevity and started to observe how they will aspire. Time passed, but people did not develop. They did not go beyond their village and did not climb up the mountains. Their eyes did not look at the sky and did not look in the Heart. So, they became old. The Creator decided to find out, what was the matter.
He became a man and came to them as a traveler. Before sunset people gathered at the square to talk with the traveler. He described them a life beyond the horizon and suggested:
Do you want me to lead you there, and you will see how people live in these places?
Oh, they answered sadly, it is late, we became old.
Then come with me to the mountains to look at the world from the top!
Oh, they suspired, it is too late, we have no energy.
Look at the sky, the traveler said to them, and I will tell you about the life in the Kingdom of Heaven!
They answered again: It is late; our mind will not understand your story.
The traveler became sad. He decided to cheer people. Let’s sing a song! he said and was going to sing first, but people noticed that the sun had gone down.
It is late, they said, it is time to sleep. And went to their huts. The traveler shouted to them: People, when life is continuous and infinite, it is not late for any achievements!
But they did not turn back. Then the Creator told himself: I will take away all words of limitation from people: “late”, “not”, “impossible”, “far”, “high”, “hard”, “will not understand”, and will place in their hearts the joy of infinity. Maybe they will perceive my Law: nothing is late because there is no end, there is only the beginning! He did so and waited for the morning: will people change, and will they go with him to the mountains? Are we going to follow our new beginning with the Holy Spirit?
Remember the words of the Psalmist (139): Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you”.
There are some very interesting facts in the Scripture Readings today:
- Jesus is giving peace to his disciples and to the whole world which we could in the First Reading how it is being fulfilled in the lives of the disciples. They were afraid and remained behind the closed doors but the peace of Christ which came through Holy Spirit, made them brave.
- Jesus breathed on them to receive the Holy Spirit, the same way as God breathed into the nostrils of Adam and he became living being. By receiving Holy Spirit disciples became fearless living being and went out to speak about Jesus and converted many to Jesus.
- Through the Holy Spirit, not only disciples but everyone received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. All these gifts bring us together to serve the Lord and build his Church. There are various gifts in the Church to serve the Lord.
- The Holy Spirit unites us together: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body; though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit, we were all baptized into one body….and we were all made to drink of one Spirit”.
- Through the Holy Spirit we all are called to serve the Lord and have the fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
- The Holy Spirit encourages us not to lose hope but trust in the Lord.
The Holy Spirit renews the face of earth and helps us to recognize our relationship with the Lord. We must listen to Holy Spirit who intercedes for us to fill us with his love who died on the Cross for us to give eternal life, otherwise we will be like the man in the story: One day an old Soul Wound decided to destroy her host. She came to him in a dream and said: Look at yourself and around you. How do you live? After all, you have only problems- inside and outside. So, what, – the host answered, but I have a wonderful woman. I love her and she loves me. But what can you offer her, except for your own problems? She will leave you soon, – The Soul Wound said. No, she won’t! – The man said, – after all, she loves me. Think about it – is it possible to love you? You are a loser! The Soul Wound exclaimed. That is the thing! If I wouldn’t have any problems – inside and outside, I would have some doubts about her being with me. But now I’m sure of her sincerity. Ok, then think: if she is so wonderful, do you deserve her? Doesn’t she deserve a better life than with you – a mentally wounded loser with lots of problems? After waking up from his own tears, the man called his loved one and told her that he doesn’t deserve her love, and he is leaving her forever. But the pain was so big that he couldn’t survive the brake up.
In heaven, an angel met the arriving soul and escorted him straight to the gates of hell. Unhappy and amazed he asked: How come you have brought me here? After all, I committed the biggest sacrifice for love! The angel turned to him and answered:
The soul wounds serve only to Devil. You will stay with the one that you have listened to.
Let us renew our faith and begin anew with commitment to serve the Lord faithfully. “Come Holy Spirit and fill our hearts with the fire of God’s Love”.
Other Sermons In This Series
December 16, 2022
June 10, 2022
January 21, 2022