Is your Christianity exciting you? It should. When we look at today’s Gospel, we see the disciples and Mary gathered together in the upper room (note that it wasn’t a church building, just a room). They have been praying fervently for nine days since the resurrection. Suddenly,
they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.
The Holy Spirit arrives with great power, and gives them extraordinary gifts. Not only that, but he gives them the energy to go out and preach the Gospel boldly, so much so that by the end of the day, three thousand people have been baptised and added to those who believe Christ is the Son of God.
I once heard a priest from our pastoral area give a homily about this passage where he completely inverted the real message. The priest said,
“At first there was noise and confusion (apparently referring to the “powerful wind from heaven”), but then after the Holy Spirit arrived, there was peace and calm.”
“NO THERE WASN’T! ARE YOU STUPID?” I wanted to jump up and shout, but I didn’t because I was in church, and even thinking this way is uncharitable! But I wanted to say, “Can’t you see that the Holy Spirit has transformed the apostles and given them the conviction and the power to get out of the upper room and take the Gospel to the streets?”
What does this mean for our church here in the Yanchep to Lancelin Pastoral Area. At the moment we are carrying out a church census, and the numbers are showing how tragically few of us there are. I don’t believe we are truly using the gifts that the Holy Spirit makes available to us. On top of this, many of us are not well enough to be very active in parish life. And unfortunately many people have been driven away from our church for various reasons. We should be heartily ashamed and praying urgently for a renewal of the Holy Spirit in the life of the parish. I have just been watching a video of the Confirmations we had in 2001, and wondering, “Where are all those children now, and why don’t they go to Mass any more?” (I might share it with you later, so that we can all pray for them.)
And now for the Good News! We may be too uncomfortable to take the Gospel to the streets, but we can all take the Gospel to our friends and family (many of whom are not attending church). We absolutely need to if we want these people to be able to reach Heaven. The trouble is, many of us do not know how to talk about Christ with others. People get embarrassed when you start talking about religion. Well, I have good news for you: there is a wonderful program that you can access which will show you how to help others towards faith in practical ways. The RETURN program is packed with ideas you can use, and I urge you sit down and develop a strategy which is going to bring your loved ones to faith in God. And please let us do this in a joy-filled way, or we’re giving the wrong message! Otherwise we have missed the point of being Christian.
If anyone is interested in studying the Return program together, please give me a call on 0400-660-337.
Come Holy Spirit, and kindle in us the fire of your love!
Word format: Year C Pentecost Sunday
Pdf format: Year C Pentecost Sunday