Pentecost Sunday (Cycle C) – May 19, 2013
- Acts 2:1-11
- Romans 8:8-17
- John 14:15-16, 23b-26
Today we bring the Easter Season to a close with the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost. For 50 days now, we have celebrated the great victory that Jesus won for us through his resurrection from the dead. Last week, we celebrated Jesus’ Ascension; when he told his Apostles to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come and clothe them with power from on high. To prepare and reassure
the Apostles, in today’s Gospel, Jesus said to them, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
Personally, I’ve often wondered just why Jesus had to leave. I mean, think about it. Why did Jesus have to leave? Let me tell you what I would do if I was God; and for those of you who know me that’s a scary thought. But hear me out. We’ve all probably said to ourselves at one time, “If I could only have been there and heard Jesus preach and see his miracles, it would be so much easier to believe.” Haven’t you said that before? Well if I was God, I’d have Jesus stay right there, in Jerusalem or Rome – on his throne and just let him teach, preach and heal people.
And he would live forever so his message could be heard and seen by every generation. With modern technology, he could preach to every Church and home around the world. Doesn’t that sound good? But … that’s not what God had in mind. God had a very different plan. But this question has nagged at me for many years and I never found an answer that made sense to me … UNTIL this week.
This past Thursday, one of the readings from the Divine Office was a commentary on the Gospel of John from St. Cyril of Alexandria. As I read it, I truly felt as if God has given me an answer to this very question of why Jesus had to leave and return to the Father. St. Cyril explains, “As long as Christ was with them in the flesh, it must have seemed to believers that they possessed every blessing in him; but when the time came for him to ascend to his heavenly Father, it was necessary for him to be united through his Spirit to those who worshiped him, and to dwell in our
hearts through faith. Only by his own presence within us in this way could he give us confidence to cry out, Abba, Father; making it easy for us to grow in holiness.”
Cyril tells us that as long as Jesus stayed here, the Spirit could not come and dwell within us. Yes, Jesus could continue to preach, teach and heal, but in his human nature, he could not enter into intimate relationship with everyone. Cyril tells us that “Only by the Spirit’s presence within us would we have the confidence to cry out, Abba, Father …” Jesus had to go so that the Father could give each of us an even greater gift, the gift of the Father’s Spirit who would come to not only birth the Church, but to come and dwell within each one of us. This is what we celebrate today!
Here is the question I ask you to consider on this great Feast of Pentecost. Will you lay down your life so the Holy Spirit can use you to accomplish God’s mission to save the world? (REPEAT) Today’s first reading recounts the birth of the Church as the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles. But this isn’t just a nice story about what happened to the Apostles some 2000 years ago. This is our story too! The same Holy Spirit that descended as tongues of fire upon the Apostles, comes to us in Baptism, in Confirmation, and in all the sacraments. Pentecost tells us that we can’t be Jesus disciple and just nibble around the edges of his message. Do we walk in here each week just to check off our obligation box on our weekly checklist? Do we view our Catholic faith as just a set of ancient rules and regulations that aren’t relevant in our modern culture? Or is our faith about a relationship with the living God who sent his only Son to suffer, die and rise because of his infinite love for each one of us!
What we do here should change us! What we do here should renew us! What we do here should make a difference in the life of every person we meet this week, in our families, among parishioners, among our friends and co-workers. Pentecost changed the world – because it birthed a Church. But what you and I must ask ourselves is, “Will Pentecost make a difference in our lives today?!” Will we allow the Spirit to really change our lives; allow the love of Jesus Christ to flow through us into the lives of every person we interact with this week!
Jesus said in Luke’s Gospel, “I came to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” You and I were born to be disciples of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit; to be the instruments of Jesus fire upon the earth. But discipleship involves sacrifice, a willingness to lay down our own plans, our own selfish desires, and to offer ourselves as instruments to bring Jesus message of love and salvation to everyone in our lives!
Today, ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to bring the love of Jesus Christ to those in your family, among your friends, among your co-workers. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the spirit of a servant; a servant who engages people both within the Church and outside the Church – to let them see Christ’s love and saving power through the way you live your life.
Holy Spirit, come and transform us, the people of Christ the King. Make us bold disciples of Jesus Christ. Give us the courage to lay down our lives, to desire nothing but to do the will of our Father; to live the fullness of Christ’s message so that we might bring the light and life of Christ to our families, our community, our nation, and the world. Come Holy Spirit – flood our lives with the power of your love! Amen!