Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My First Homily, Pentecost!

In this morning’s Gospel we heard the powerful story of how Jesus appeared to the disciples, in a locked room, showing his wounds, greeting them in peace, and Sending them forth filled with the Holy Spirit. On this day the Church celebrates the feast of Pentecost, that moment the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. We celebrate that moment when the people of God, and the Church, received not only life in Christ, but also life in the Spirit. I think for so many of us it is all to easy to think of the Holy Spirit in only the most abstract of terms. Jesus we can easily imagine because of his humanity, because of how he lived and how he died. But look around, where is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not prominent in these windows, nor on the walls. One thing they don’t tell you in seminary is to always check the Church the night before a big homily to see if large numbers of banners depicting the holy spirit have been added to the Church since you last where there. But even the lone depiction of the Holy Spirit by the Baptismal font, (shrug sholuders) and the banners there, there, there............ the Holy Spirit is something that takes no visible form. I am reminded of that great story of the Grandfather and the grandson who sit in cabin during a winter morning’s storm. The grandfather prepares to go outside when his curious young grandson asks “Grandpa, why do you bundle yourself up like you do” and the grandfather replies “why because of the wind of course.” to which the young child, filled with curoisity responds, “grandpa how do you know that the wind exists?” To which he replied, come to the window and see, there it is But the child did not see it The grandfather said, “look carefully and you will see it” The child looked, and looked and looked but saw nothing. His eyes and ears could observe no evidence. But the grandfather spoke again saying “look to the trees and see how they swing wildly, look to the snow and see how it dances. All that happens because of the wind, the wind moves the great trees and the snow that falls. But the child continued, how do you know the tree does not sway on its own, or the snow dance The grandfather continued, son I know the wind is there because I watch those trees and I see it has an effect on them. I can see when the wind moves the trees and when it does not. but I also know the wind is there because when I step away from the window, when i step outside these doors to find it, I feel it on my face. When I listen carefully I hear its voice singing in the night. If you never leave the comforts of this cabin you will never understand the wind. You will always look out wondering. But if you do leave, if you do seek it out, it will find you. You will never see it, it will never announce its arrival, but it will find you and it will make its presence known. If you watch carefully you can see how it is gently at work all around. You will see how indeed it makes the tree dance and the clouds drift by. It will sing softly to your heart. That story speaks so beautifully to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, the invisible force that makes all things known, and the Spirit we celebrate in the Church today. But the story of the wind, is just that, a story. 
What is not a story, what is real, is how the Holy Spirit works in us gathered here today. How the Holy Spirit lives and breathes in this Church, in the Church, and in people of faith. In the current cultural climate of our day it is easy to be blinded to the Spirit’s presence, it is easy to forget how it is at work in our lives, in the Church and in the world. I say with great passion and conviction that I am standing here this morning because I encountered the living God, the Holy Spirit, at work in the lives of the young men and women I taught at Trinity High School, the young people of this parish, and the many parishoners, friends and families, including my own, who are so much a part of my life. But at the end we must remember that seeing the wind from a window in the cabin, is much different than encountering the Holy Spirit in our own lives. The most important example and witness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives must be within each of us. The Holy Spirit dwells in each of us at Baptism. We invite the Holy Spirit into our lives in a deeper way at Confirmation. The Spirit is in us. The Living God enters into each of us in a real way. God sent his only Son into the world so that we might believe, so that we would be saved. But God sent the Spirit into our lives so we could come to know and understand Jesus Christ more fully. At Pentecost the Church is born, guided and ever living because of the Spirit. At Pentecost, at our Baptism and Confirmation, at this Mass, and in our souls, the Spirit is present because God seeks us. He sends His Spirit to each of us, like He sent his son to the world. The Holy Spirit may not be in these windows, or permanently on these walls, but the Holy Spirit is right beside each of us, the Holy Spirit dwells in all of us who share in Baptism. On this Pentecost may we never forget that not only did God so love the world that he sent his only son, God so loved each and every one of us, that he sent his spirit to dwell in each of us, so that we might know Him. On this Pentecost may we be not only temples of the Holy Spirit, but may we also throw open the doors of hearts so that the Spirit within each of us will invite others to experience a profound encounter with the Living God, with the Holy Spirit, who Burns in our hearts, dwells in our beings, and seeks shine forth form within with a radiance and beauty far brighter than the very windows in this Church.

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