Homily – Pentecost Sunday

The Church gives us a special sequence prayer to pray on Pentecost Sunday, but this year I would like to share a new one written by Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of our sister organization, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.  This prayer says well I believe what each of us needs to remember and to do as we welcome the Spirit more fully into our lives on this Pentecost Sunday.

Spirit  of Love, your overflowing love permeates my being and all creation.
                  May I love all with your tender love.

Spirit of Compassion, your comfort embraces me and gives me strength in times of sorrow and stress.

                  May I walk with those who are hurting and who need a friend. 

Spirit of Healing, your healing energy is within me and within all,

                  May I be an instrument of peace, in communion with all beings.

Spirit of Affirmation, your splendor shines through each person,

                  May I affirm others through my words and actions. 

Spirit of Life, you are moving in me, in everyone and in everything.

                  May I/we grow and evolve in Pentecost Passion and joy!

Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, 

    We marveled I’m sure listening to the reading from Acts at all the manifestations of power that those first disciples exhibited and we almost dream for those times when we could do the same—when the Spirit would touch us in that same way.  But my friends, we do have that same power; we just must use it!

A Rochester Franciscan, whom some of you may have known, Margaret Pirkl, died on March 19 of this year and she was known among other things for her writings and teaching on The Cosmic Christ.  She, as well as others who have taught this concept say that the Cosmic Christ can be “defined as that aspect of God which pervades all of creation,” the Christ who “fills the universe in all its parts” (Ephesians 1:23), as was indicated in Bridget Mary’s opening sequence.

Simply put, there is nothing in our world that is not immersed in God and so if we take that mindset to heart; we can do no less than treat all of creation; animals, plants and humans with deep love and respect.  I am called to task in my personal life when I have to deal with spiders, snakes and mice—but I am a work in progress! (:  In the past two weeks, we needed to take down two large trees in our yard that had died and I found myself with each one, as they were cut down, thanking them for their lives, for the beauty, shade and joy they had brought—treating each with the respect such a living creature deserves. I have yet to deal better with the spiders, snakes and mice.  And I am called to task as well with my lack of generosity toward those humans that I disagree with.

But Pentecost is a time for gratitude.  A couple of times each year; we get away in our camper and discover anew, much that we are grateful for. The “getting away” affords us the time to simply rest and reflect on all that we are thankful for; among them are life, love, family, friends, support—opportunities to serve and give back a bit of what we have been blessed with by our loving God. Pentecost calls us to such reflection.

Our response this Sunday from Psalm 104 asks the Spirit to, “Renew the face of the earth.”  Our Church is in the midst of a great upheaval and clearly, renewing is needed. The People of God are asking for a Church that is more alive, more vibrant, more filled with the Spirit, one that recognizes God’s gifts in all the People of God, women as well as men, gay as well as straight,  asking for a Church that accepts and loves all people as God loves them, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age, illness, weakness, or any other roadblock we set up that proposes to make some of us better than others.

Many times Pentecost is called the birthday of the Church because it was on that day, blessed by a power beyond themselves—the holy Spirit of Jesus, that the apostles finally went public—they left the Upper Room that had become a place of hiding, to meet the world and proclaim without fear that Jesus had lived, died, rose from the dead and now lived eternally with the God of all life—to state in fact that he had forever changed their lives and the lives of everyone!

These disciples and friends of Jesus, were now armed, not with swords and spears as one would expect if they were to physically take over a nation—take their land back from the Romans, as many of these first followers thought that Jesus, as the Messiah would do. No, these disciples were armed with the strength and power of the very Spirit of God.  Their tools to conquer evil and renew the face of the earth were the gifts of language, spoken in a way that all could understand; the gift of words to preach as Jesus had, opening the hearts and minds of all who heard them. And ultimately this language was all about love—a love big enough to include everyone.

The Scriptures tell us that these disciples were filled with joy to move out in truth and love, to share Jesus’ goodness, mercy, and justice with all that they met.  And we know that they brought many into the Church that first day—they were irresistible to all who met them, heard them, saw them—they were authentic, they were true and people wanted what they had!  And again, we reflect, why can’t that happen to us?—and again I repeat—it can, my friends—it can!   We only need to live as Pentecostal people!

Joan Chittister tells a wonderful story of just how this is done. She makes a point of saying that the particulars, time and place, aren’t as important as the story itself—it’s a story for all times and places.  It seems that this story took place in New York in a busy airport where people were rushing from one flight to another—some across the country and around the world, some just from city to city, some just in a hurry to get home.  In the busy-ness and rush, a local vendor selling fruit had her stand upended and the fruit, oranges and apples were everywhere.  The vendor, a woman, cried out and got to the floor and in a sweeping motion tried to gather the fruit and salvage what could be.  A passerby, a man, seeing her distress, slowed his rush to help the woman.  As he slowed down, he became aware—the woman vendor was blind. He took out $40 and put it into her hand saying, maybe this can help with your loss. The woman cried out in response, “Are you Jesus?”

I think it might be good to take some time today to think about the day we ourselves were confirmed.  Hopefully, it was a special day in your life, one when you resolved to live anew, to share with others what had been so graciously shared with you—to perhaps see beyond your life to the lives of all those around you that you encounter each and every day.  The gifts of the Spirit are always within us.  Maybe today might be the day to revisit what the Spirit living within us really means, and then to act accordingly.

In the story I shared from Joan Chittister, she finished her comments by reflecting on the blind man, Bartimeus from the Gospels. When Jesus asked him what he wanted, Bartimeus simply said, “I just want to see!”  Friends, people we meet/encounter every day want to see too, want to believe that they aren’t alone, that others do care; they just want to have hope that life can be better.  This is where I began today, with the hope that each of us has for a life that is about goodness, caring and sharing—people standing up for each other. This is what Pentecost calls us to,as each of us was called to when we were confirmed in our faith.  The woman vendor, blind physically, but certainly not blind spiritually recognized goodness when she experienced it and asked if her (savior) was Jesus. Hopefully, our actions will cause others to wonder, even proclaim, if we are Jesus too!  May we each be blessed to become Pentecost people, today and always!  Amen? Amen!