Homily from Sunday June 05th 2022: Pentecost Sunday

We’ve all been taught that it’s dangerous to play with fire.

When I was a little boy of 5 or 6 – I had those kitchen matches with the big red tops and you’d run the match over the long strip to get them to burst into flame. It was kind of mesmerizing to me; but when it got to close to my fingers I threw it into my sister’s hair. I probably don’t have to explain too much about what happened to me after that.

On Pentecost Sunday, we recall how the Holy Spirit appeared as shapes of tongues of fire. No words. No explanations – just a noisy wind and fire. As with any fire, there was some possibility for danger, not that the room would catch on fire but that this particular fire would somehow change the lives of those disciples, and change them radically and forever.

On this Pentecost Sunday, 2000 years later, the Holy Spirit may come in the form of a kind of fire, but the Spirit wants the same kind of transformation, this time, not in the Apostles – but in you and me.

If we let the Spirit in, the danger is that you and I might have to be against powerful forces in this world, making sure that the hungry are fed, shelter is given to the homeless, the sick and dying are cared for. But the real danger is that you and I might mistakenly believe that we have to do this alone. Pentecost isn’t a feast for loners,. It’s a feast for the entire people of God.

The Holy Spirit is compared to breath. Jesus breathes on the Apostles – sending His own Spirit into them. So the Holy Spirit can make us powerful instruments of Christ’s grace to people around us. The Spirit reminds us of everything Jesus called us to be.

The Holy Spirit has also been called the soul of the Church. We all have seen pictures of our younger days. Our bodies have changed in all kinds of ways. Yet our soul provides the continuity so that the person we see in the photograph of years ago is still ourselves.

The same is true of the Church. Many externals of the Church have changed and will change. The continuities in the Church that make it the identical community Jesus founded are preserved by the Holy Spirit.

I have attached a photo of myself from way back on the bulletin board, it is still me, with all the changes over the years – but it helps to illustrate the point.

We find in the celebration of Pentecost the God Spirit who defies description.

Come Holy Spirit is a dangerous prayer if we are not prepared for the consequences. We would have to get ready for the rush of God which could tear through our tidy lives and our sheltered places.

The Spirit could become an uncomfortable and embarrassing companion – for we could be let to reckless generosity to the needs of others.

However we experience the Holy Spirit – as a dove, as water, as fire or as breath, the Spirit will always guide us and the Church. Friends will leave us. Allies may abandon us. Scandals may try us. The Holy Spirit remains with us as our link to Christ and the people of God – the Church.

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