Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
The Solemnity of Pentecost: Empowered by the Spirit
Peter, Andrew, James and John, the other eight, the seventy-two, Mary, Martha, Mary of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, the woman who followed and attended to His needs--all encountered Jesus of Nazareth. His presence changed their lives. They wanted to be with Him, near Him, wherever He was teaching and preaching and healing. They knew that while they were in His presence they were in the presence of God. He was a holy man, a spiritual man. The Spirit of God was in Him.
He told Philip, “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father, for the Father and I are one.”
This was just the beginning.
They gathered in the Upper Room fifty days after Easter, Pente--Fifty--cost. They weren’t there to grieve over the One who had died and risen and ascended. They were there to wait. He told them to wait. Then under the signs of wind and tongues of fire His Spirit filled their being. The Father was above. The Son had gone to Him. But the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, was now the Spirit of the followers of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was now their life principle.
And the Church, the living Church, is born. Today is the birthday of the Church.
The people of Jesus, the people of God, have been
entrusted with the Spirit of the Living God to continue the work of the Savior. Ordinary human beings of every place and age, speak and do, and Jesus continues teaching and healing.
And people who are searching see you and how you live your lives. They see how God is the center of your lives. You don’t just attend Church on Sundays; you live for the Lord. And as these people see the world around them becoming more and more irreligious, and more and more pagan, they want what you have for themselves and for their families. And the Holy Spirit works within you and through you, and people come to Church seeking God. They experience the presence of the Lord calling them to reorientate their lives. The Spirit, His Spirit, our Spirit, moves them.
And parents bring their children to faith formation and then beam with pride as they see their children growing in their spiritual life. Parents realize that parish religious education programs are only building on the presence of God in their homes. As they watch their children praying, they realize that somehow, mystically, spiritually, God is working through them. And their work, your work, the work of raising children for the Lord, is the work of the Holy Spirit using you for them.
You reach out to those needing help, perhaps to the seniors, perhaps to the homebound or the hospitalized, perhaps to the grieving; perhaps to those who are refugees and strangers in our land, perhaps to those with AIDS or those in prison, those suffering, the people with whom the Lord identifies, through your charity they all encounter Christ. And the Holy Spirit works though you for them.
And Moms and expectant Moms look for help in the neediest times of their lives, perhaps for some the most confusing times of their lives. They find Christ’s Spirit at our Upper Pinellas Pregnancy Center as so many members of our parish reach out to them.
And people who have natural talent, people who can sing, adults and children, people who can speak clearly in public, people willing to be alert to care for the assembly, members of the music ministry, lectors and ushers, Extraordinary Minister, servers and all who help, many more than the congregation realizes, all provide an atmosphere of prayer for our community. People come to Church and experience the spiritual, the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit is alive.
And teenagers take their place as leaders in the faith, not just among their peers here in Church, but as leaders throughout the parish, and in their schools, on their teams, in their world. Teens in Life Teen and younger Teens and Pre-Teens in the EDGE come to the realization that they also are spiritual. For the Spirit of Jesus works through them for others.
We all continue to search for ways to strengthen the Presence of the Lord in our lives, in our homes. Young singles or newly weds, parents with children at home or parents with children on their own, widowed or divorced, single or married, young or old, we know that we can be holy, we can be spiritual, for we have received the Spirit of God.
The Holy Spirit is alive and is working in the Church, right here, right now. We encounter His presence on a daily basis in every aspect of our lives. We are inspired to reach out to others. We have been empowered, empowered to continue the work of Jesus Christ.
And outside, outside the Upper Room where the disciples waited, outside the walls of the Church, outside there are hundreds, thousands, millions of people longing to find meaning in their lives, and purpose, and fulfillment. They are longing for the spiritual. They are waiting for us to come out of our security and plunge into the world with compete faith in God. They are waiting for us to proclaim with our lives that Jesus Christ is Lord.
For today and everyday is Pentecost.
“Father of Light, from whom every good gift comes, send your Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind, and by the flame of your wisdom open the horizons of our minds. Loosen our tongues to sing your praise in words beyond the power of speech, for without your Spirit man could never raise his voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord.” ......Collect (Opening Prayer) for the Solemnity of Pentecost.