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Pastor's Letter 20200531 - 31 May 2020 - Holy Spirit-Gift of the Father

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May 31, 2020

Feast of Pentecost

A Message from Father Michael

Today’s Theme:  “Holy Spirit—Gift of the Father”


Scripture Note

At Pentecost, we celebrate the giving of the Spirit to all mankind who hear the Word of God—and we are related to it, in the establishment of the “new” Israel, Christ’s Holy Church.  The Holy Spirit, Whom the Lord Jesus sends from the Father, reminds us of everything we believe.  In this way He animates us and gives us power.  

The Messianic prophets foretold the gift of the Spirit.  Sending of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles was the beginning of the new era, in which the Church was founded; and Christ’s Holy Spirit was given to “renew the face of the earth.” 

 The feast of Pentecost, while primarily connected with the celebration of the completion of harvest in Biblical times--by the offering of first fruits, etc.--seems also to have been associated in the minds of the later Jews with the giving of the law on the "fiftieth day" after their departure from Egypt.  In the New Testament, Pentecost serves as a time during which the apostles prepared for their earthly mission unto the world-at-large.  

 Beginning with today’s First Reading (Acts 2:1-11,) we recount the familiar scene in which the Holy Spirit, represented by wind and tongues of fire,” settled on the heads of the apostles.  (Using Biblical analogies, wind and tongues of fire [heat] are symbols of the presence and action of God.  Wind gives the power to move, to uproot.  Fire has the power to refine, to purify.)  In so doing, the Spirit imparted the gift of tongues upon them, with which they were able to preach the “Good News” to people of all nations, purportedly utilizing the native language of each listener.  In concert with this, Paul describes the “Gifts of the Spirit,” for the good of the Church (1 Corinthians 12:3-13.)  Taken together, these two Readings give us the purpose of Pentecost.  

Then, our Gospel relates how the Risen Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples to inaugurate their mission (John 20:19-23.)


Prior to the coming of the Holy Spirit, about 120 of Jesus’ disciples, including the apostles, ["together with some women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus and His brothers,” (Acts 2:14,)] were virtually “living in hiding” in the upper room.  A great task had been entrusted to them, yet they had neither the strength nor the will to begin it.  But, after the coming of the Holy Spirit, they were changed people.  Leaving their hiding place, they courageously set out to preach the Gospel.  In promising the Spirit, Jesus said to them, “You will receive power with the Holy Spirit comes on you, and then you will be My witnesses not only in Jerusalem, but…to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8.)  The key word here, is “power.” And that was precisely what they needed—for, they felt completely powerless before that event.  Formerly crippled with fear and a sense of inadequacy, they were totally incapable of carrying out the task of preaching the Gospel and witnessing to Jesus.  After all, they had seen what happened to Jesus.  So, they needed courage—something to “empower” them.  

Empowerment means to “receive power or authority.”  Secondly, to empower means to enable, or authorize someone.  We hear a good deal about empowerment in our modern vernacular. Individuals and groups of people who initially feel powerless to change their situations suddenly become able to do so when they are empowered by some external cause or internal change of attitude. We have observed what good “motivators” can accomplish to inspire salespeople, and in the case of sports teams, who return to the field in the second half of a game and overcome a large point disadvantage.  Agents or players who may have been lacking self-confidence find their inner strength and inspiration to play far beyond their normal abilities. 

 The Holy Spirit, as God’s Advocate, gave His authority to the apostles.  Their receipt of the Spirit gave them energy, momentum and enthusiasm, compounding their courage, love and passion for their mission.  The Holy Spirit was sent to help them—not to do their work for them.  Christ left it up to them to "get the Word out."

The Miracle of Change

We must not think the change came upon the disciples in an instant.  Rather, it would have come as a growth process--gradually.  We all know personal growth can be slow and painful.  People find it difficult to abandon old ways of doing things, eschewing familiar habits and attitudes in favor of something new.  

But it’s been proven that human beings are able to embrace change when they are given hope—and a purposeful task to accomplish—and then pursue a goal with fervor and interest.  Above all,we change when we feel loved.  Then we “come out of our shells,” and discover hidden energies within us.  Truly, the miracle of human change is the only real miracle!  

 Oftentimes that Spirit of God within ourselves is needed to discover the incentive to take charge of our lives, and live them responsibly.  Even having reached the depths of despair, the human mind can be led toward a productive path.  We see this in people who are at the “end of the road” due to substance abuse. Utilizing Biblical sources*, Dr. Reinhold Neibuhr  developed the “Serenity Prayer”  (Published 1951:)  

"God, give me grace to accept with serenity The things that cannot be changed,

 Courage to change the things, which should Be changed,

And the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."

He continued: 
"Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will,  

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next.  Amen."

 (Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and others, utilize this prayer to encourage addicts to share their pain with others who have survived their experience.  Then, with careful examination of the causes of their addiction, through practiced exposition, and caring “sponsors,” they find the answer to the underlying problems that fomented the problem. Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous to help guide afflicted people toward sobriety.)

 A New Language

Language has become the main means of communication between human beings, and, to a varying extent, all creatures.  Since it occurs in different forms, when we find ourselves in strange surroundings or cultures, we feel lost, unable to speak the language.  (Finding it difficult to communicate, we often resort to “pantomime,” or pictorial representations.  Then, finding someone with whom we can converse, great joy ensues!) 

 For the most part, “words” express needs, laws, transactions, intentions, thoughts, emotions, longings, hopes and creeds.  Yet words are sometimes elusive symbols, in that simple statements can convey different meanings, depending upon context.  

 Language, in itself, cannot bring people together.  As expressed by The Little Prince: “Words are a source of misunderstanding.”  (www.britannica.com/topic/The-Little-Prince)  Just because we all use the same language doesn’t mean we are all “one.” There still may not be a “meeting of minds and hearts.” 

 But the opposite can also happen.  People may speak different languages—be strangers to one another—yet a bond can be created among them allowing them to become not only friends, but also brothers and sisters.  On the day of great joy, great sorrow or great danger for a community or a country, differences of language are swept aside.  When we stand shoulder to shoulder, we find ourselves of one mind and one heart.  (One remembers the unity of the people of NYC on 9/11.)

 Of course there are other ways of communicating without words.  (So many important signs and symbols exist that psychologists tell us only 20% of communication happens with words.  In Luke’s account of Pentecost in Acts, today, we heard of two of these:  wind and fire.) Still, no one discounts the importance of the spoken and written word.  In addition to the gift of tongues, the apostles were able to communicate to everyone because theirs was a language of peace rather than war; of reconciliation rather than conflict; of friendship rather than hostility; of unity rather than division; and of love rather than hate.  This “new language” gave rise to a new community—for those who believed in Jesus—one of faith and love.  We are told they became of “one mind and heart.  Through the gift of the Spirit, people of many languages learned to profess one faith—to the praise and glory of God.  That miracle of the first Pentecost is still happening today. 

May God Richly Bless You! 

*Proverbs 20:24; Titus 3:9; Matthew 16:3; Romans 6:12-14; Hebrews 2:17-18; Romans 8:12-13; Isaiah 55:8-9


I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, 

But the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith.” Martin Luther

To view a live presentation of today's Holy Mass, click here: 

Spirit of God.docx

Spirit of God.mp3

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