Homily for June 4

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Homily for Pentecost Sunday
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

(No audio today, platform is down)

So, the Spirit came upon the disciples as a strong driving wind
- and as tongues of fire resting on their heads.
I wonder: if we had a new Pentecost
would you prefer to be knocked over by a strong wind
or have a burning flame settle just above the part in your hair?

• Will it be wind strong and driving:
wind that forces you to lean into it as you walk;
wind so strong that if you don’t bow to it, you’ll be blown over;
wind strong enough strip a tree of leaves and branches
and us of whatever we clutch
when we reach for what doesn’t belong to us?
wind strong enough to knock us down a peg or two;
wind strong to sweep us off our feet;
wind with strength to lift us up when we’re bowed down;
wind like a lover driven to have us…

• Or will it be tongues of fire, flames settling on our heads:
a flame strong enough to light our path in the dark times,
a flame bright enough to expose our hidden sins;
a flame warm enough to take the chill from a hardened heart
and melt our stubborn pride;
a flame of beauty drawing others to share the source of our fire’
a flame as pure as the Lord’s heart, weightless
and yet weighted by the Cross its heat brands upon our hearts?

So, which would we have? wind or flame? Neither?
Of course, we need both - and God isn’t holding back on either.
But we have ways of sheltering ourselves
from the gusts of God’s wind moving in our lives
and ways of insulating ourselves
from the heat of God’s desire to light a fire under us
to move us to speak and act as we ought.

The driving wind of God’s Spirit batters the injustices we tolerate
among nations, in our government, in our laws,
at work, in our families
and in how we share or fail to share what we have
            with those who have so much less.

The driving wind of God’s Spirit seeks to strip us
of our prejudice, our arrogance, our pride and our resentments.

The wind of the Spirit comes to fan the flame of God’s presence in us,
such that our lives are warmth for those who need it,
light for those who seek the truth,
healing for the wounded,
and justice for those who are oppressed in any way.

Pentecost is meant to renew and refresh the Spirit within and among us.
This day calls us to bow and to lean into the Spirit’s driving force
that we might go with it and not be left broken, scattered in its path.
Pentecost calls us to endure the heat
of the inevitable friction generated when the Gospel grates
against the selfishness of our personal agendas.

If all this sounds too daunting and demanding,
keep in mind that I’m speaking here of nothing more or less
than the gifts of the Holy Spirit we all received in Confirmation:
wisdom, understanding, right judgment, courage,
knowledge, reverence and awe in God’s presence.

Pentecost reminds us that we have gifts - the Spirit’s gifts,
already given to us - though we may not yet have opened them.

In our families, at work, at school, in our neighborhoods, in this parish
where and when and how is God’s Spirit offering us:
wisdom to correct our foolishness?
understanding to curb our stubbornness?
right judgment in the face of our bad choices?
courage to do and say what we fear doing and saying?
knowledge to open our minds and hearts to truth?
reverence to help us love what is pure and beautiful?
and awe in God’s presence -
all that I might grow in the life of the Spirit?

The gifts are all there
and the wind and fire of God call me to open them.
And of course, each of us has received from God
gifts particular to our own talents, skills and abilities.
And like the Spirit’s gifts received in Confirmation,
many of the personal gifts God endows us with
are left un-opened,  un-discovered and un-used.

I firmly believe there’s not one thing Holy Family truly needs
that God hasn’t offered us
in the gifts given to the people of our parish.

Everything we need to be an even more thriving, active, prayerful parish
reaching out to those in need,
everything we need to be the parish God asks us to  be
has already been given us for that purpose.

We have only to open and share
the gifts and talents God has given us.
How many of us have gifts to offer that we’ve not yet unwrapped?
not yet shared?

In a few moments we'll pray for God’s Spirit to come upon us
and upon our gifts, the bread and wine we offer today
in praise and thanksgiving,

And we'll soon pray that God’s Spirit make of them
the life, the body and blood of the risen Christ.
May the Spirit who makes holy our gifts
make holy and faithful we who offer them,
the people of Holy Family parish.

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