The Fire of the Holy Spirit Descends, Pentecost Sunday, June 3, 2001

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Espirito Santo Parish, Fall River, MA
Pentecost Sunday, Year C
June 3, 2001
Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3-7,12-13; Jn 20:19-23

1) First day at ES. Tour from Fr. Jim. Turned around and saw the stained glass. I counted the apostles. There were 13th. Who’s the 13th member in the upper room? We’ll come back to this.

2) The patronal feast of this parish. The birthday of the Church. The Holy Spirit came down upon Mary and the Apostles as tongues of fire. Why tongues of fire? Why tongues, rather than eyeballs, etc.? Why fire, rather than water, diamonds, crystals, water or anything else? God doesn’t do things by chance and hence it’s important to understand why?

3) First tongues. Tongues are for speaking and for digesting. Holy Spirit came down so that we could speak, speak the words of faith, spread the Gospel. Holy Spirit also came down to digest, to help us to digest the word of God, but moreover, to digest the body and blood of Christ which the Holy Spirit makes possible.

4) Fire. Fire is a symbol of passion, of a burning desire. God wants us to burn in love for the faith, for digesting the word of God and for spreading that word to others. We pray often, Enkindle in us the fire of your love. Fons ignis in the Veni Creator Spiritus. Most people don’t burn. They barely have any sparks. They are couch potatoes through human existence. We see it here at Mass. So many people never even open up hymnals. They’re here, but they’re not on fire. They aren’t zealous and eager for the Word of God. They start tuning out the homily really fast. The come up for Holy Communion as if they’re forced to, unlike those who really know Who they’re receiving. The leave Mass as soon as possible, without even waiting to praise God.

Jesus wants us to be hot or cold, but not lukewarm. He specifically linked it to their materialism:

Rev 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: 15 “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19 I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. 20 Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

5) The Holy Spirit, whom we have all received in Confirmation, comes to us in every Mass, tries to kindle in us the flame not just of faith but of zeal for the faith. The Holy Spirit is trying to raise up a new Acts of the Apostles with each of us, whether publicly or silently, playing a starring role. In the second reading, we see that there are many gifts but the same spirit. Some preach. Some teach CCD. Some work in the kitchen, allowing the parish to survive economically. Some have compassion and care for others, bringing them comfort and communion. God has given us all gifts, as we in St. Paul. Are we using them? What are we concretely trying to do to build up God’s kingdom?

6) If we’re ever going to convert our society back to the Gospel, all of us have to carry out our mission of preaching the Gospel by what we say and what we do. I can’t preach the Gospel in your homes like you can. I can’t go into your factories and give witness like you can. Father Jim can’t evangelize on the sports field or in the supermarket or at the patients’ bedsides as you can. God needs all of us. The Holy Spirit will fill all of us with the ability to do it, but we have to say yes.

7) We, here at Espirito Santo, have a particular duty since the Holy Spirit is our patron, to light other Catholics on fire with the Holy Spirit. Please make the commitment today to beg for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, beg for the desire to serve God and put him first in all things, and to use you, however he sees fit, for the building up of his kingdom.

8 ) When I returned after having seen the sanctuary, I got a clear insight into who that 13th apostle in the stained glass is meant to be. It’s meant to be YOU.