Pentecost A 2017


I usually think of Pentecost in terms of unity and commonality and it is a powerful symbol of such.  After all, those who speak many languages are able to hear St. Peter’s speech in their own language.  The Holy Spirit creates the Body of Christ and only those who belong to the Body can claim, “Jesus is Lord.”  It is the birthday of the church and a celebration of our oneness in Christ.

Yet, there is also a particular and intimately personal aspect of the Holy Spirit.  St. Paul reminds us of the different gifts, service and workings that come from the same Holy Spirit, but are received in us differently.  “To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”

So not only did Jesus breathe on all the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit, each one of them received it, just as each one of us received the Holy Spirit at our baptism.  The Spirit of Jesus Christ inhabits and abides in us.  It has given us something perfect within us, something divine that ultimately defines us.

I would like to point out three promises that come with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The first is the gift of vocation.  Sometimes that vocation might be you do with your life.  More often than not, that vocation is how you live your life.  God has given us through the Holy Spirit some qualities that are more highly developed in our nature than others.   The more we time and the more energy we give over to exercising these gifts, the more fulfilled we will be.  We will be doing the most satisfying task in all the world:  ministering and caring as God as made us capable of doing.  So if you are a great listener, listen.  If you are happy, smile.  And if you have the gift of fixing, fix it.

I once did a strength assessment and I can recall might two greatest strengths were WOO (winning others over) and Maximizer. A maximizer focuses on what they do well and cares little about the rest.  The description said, “You are not a well-rounded person.”  There are about four things I do really well in life.  I hope this is one of them.  I can also watch baseball with great attention.  My sister-in-law famously said, “The Longo boys have no skills.”  And it true.  But I have the great privilege of serving God and others in the way God made me.   You have a unique way of serving as well.  Your destiny will be found by the gifts that Spirit has empowered within you.  No one else can express their Spirit as you do.  Find how the Spirit has gifted you and it will lead you to your meaning and your joy.

The second promise of the Holy Spirit to the individual is attraction.   We are at our best and most attractive when we are being what the Holy Spirit has called us to do.  How peaceful are those who find their element, who know how to answer their call.  They know who they are and what they are meant for.    And what is more, true love and friendship begin when we discover how the Spirit has empowered us to make us our truest selves. It is as if each of us have been given a superpower.  Why waste our time on the rest?  Why do we seek to become what we are not or to attain what we have in no way been given? Isn’t God smarter than we are?

Yet, as beautiful as that is, it is also clear that none of us is Jesus Christ.  God did not simply make us all Jesus so that we would not be full unto ourselves, but that we might appreciate and need one another.  And this lead to the third promise of the Spirit to the individual – the promise of reliance.  What I am missing is not forever gone, it needs to be found in another:  a calm to slow my energy, an activity to complement my reflection.  God meant us to be in relationship so that all our gifts could be discovered and shared.  God meant us to be in community that all the gifts that build up the body of Christ might be found only when we come together.  Those who live Christianity on their own are missing the ways we can help them.  Christianity is a project that is meant to be done as a community.

When we speak of “Come and See” it is not in a voice that merely says “Come and see what we have.”  It is a plaintive voice as well that is desperate to share in how the Holy Spirit has blessed you.  We are not as completely Christ as we could be without everyone’s unique gifts.

So let us honor the Holy Spirit on this day by discovering it within ourselves.  Share the best part of yourself and then rejoice how you have been chosen.  You will be showing the world the grace filled and beautiful face of Christ. And you will seek that same face in everyone.  It would be a world filled with overwhelming dignity and every life would be respected.  Let our Church be a gathering point for all the gifts the Spirit has endowed in God’s people.  Then we will truly be building up the body of Christ until the Holy Spirit of God abounds and fills our world with peace.