Pentecost Sunday A

Today, Pentecost, is the last day of the Easter Season. And we have had an Easter season like no other. It has seen challenges, heartbreak and hope for our community.   I thought I would share with you my Easter journey with the Holy Spirit. Give you a personal testimonial to my relationship to the Holy Spirit. Even as I say that I recognize that might be the least Catholic thing I have ever said.

An evening before everyone knew, I knew our bad news. That was a lonely night because I really could not tell anyone. I was awake most of that night, only interrupted by occasional nightmares. I tried to stay awake because who can fall asleep knowing there will be nightmares. In that one night, I imagined every ugly scenario for our parish. At about 2:45, I got the brilliant idea to call the Finance Committee and have them slash some $200,000 from the budget for I was sure that no one would come to Church again. I prayed for Fr. Michael, I prayed for the person making the allegations. But what kept recurring to me is one basic fear: we would lose everything we had built.  

Sometime in that long night though, I figured out something. By the grace of God I turned to the grace of God. I knew this was too big for me; that I could not handle it. I had to admit I was powerless before the task that confronted me.   I needed more than I had. I could only turn to the Holy Spirit. And I have not been let down one moment of the way. I have had strength beyond my strength, hope beyond all promises and words more eloquent than I could even imagine. The only one to help this community was its author. Only the in the Spirit are we saved.

Like the apostles who felt a mighty gush of wind, this wind of the Spirit filled me with confidence. It was the Lord’s work and not mine. The Spirit would not leave me short. And it has not left this community short either. We have had the kind of faith throughout all this that moves mountains of despair and confusion. Jesus has kept his promise. We are not left orphaned.

And as the wind blew the apostles out of that room where they had gathered for prayer to speak to all of God’s people, we have found each other – in the hallways of our schools, at work, on line at the supermarket and most especially in our Church homes. We have conveyed shock, concern, outrage, love, fear, disappointment and betrayal. But above all, we have found each other and reached out to one another in our pain, just as any family would.

The disciples saw tongues of fire. I have seen it as well in words that were on fire. They were words that cried, words that challenged, words that consoled, words that questioned and words that voiced our pain. They have been words generated from the pit of our guts, they have burned with the sincerity of the Spirit. These words were not always the same, nor have they always agreed. They could only be held in the Holy Spirit’s cauldron of listening and understanding. We can burn with the Spirit, but it is a fire held by love and compassion for one another.

And as St. Paul points out, the Spirit comes with many gifts. I felt empowered to use all that I could, including some that I might never have known that I had. Our gifts were manifold. Some have shared their wisdom and patience; others have urged us to justice and reconciliation; still others have had the gift of careful listening and good counsel. I took the best of what had been shared with me and asked the Spirit the gift of sharing it with you. Some of you had the gift of making delicious food and giving it to your pastor. That was much appreciated.

Above all the Holy Spirit promises the gift the resurrected Christ most wanted to share. The gift of peace. In my life I have been blessed with a wider capacity to hear and to soothe – to keep competing and true feelings of anger and empathy, of confusion and clarity, of mercy and justice alongside each other; resisting the temptation to emphasize one and abandon the other. Perhaps that is how the Holy Spirit makes us peaceful. She reconciles all that we cannot.

I am sure I every life there is something too big, something impossible to handle – something overwhelming and beyond our skills and capacity. Admit your powerlessness.   Give it to the Holy Spirit. For if you need hope in the midst of despair, from where else can it come? If you need the grace of forgiveness, who else but the Holy Spirit can make it possible? If you are lost in a swamp of resentment, who else can carry you to friendship but the very Spirit of God? And who but the Holy Spirit will allow you to know strength beyond strength, truth beyond truth, peace beyond peace and love beyond love.

Please give it to the Holy Spirit. There are other spirits vying for control of our greatest darkness. Spirits of bitterness and anger, spirits of doom and depression, spirits of disengagement and loss. They are destined to lead to only isolation and heartbreak.

Only one Spirit brings us home. Only one Spirit brings us to each other. Only one Spirit brings us to peace. Only one Spirit brings us to God. It is the very Spirit that moved Jesus Christ and the spirit that dwells within us. It is the Holy Spirit.