Homily: Pentecost 8th June, 2019

8th June, 2019

The feast of Pentecost concludes the Easter season, the fifty days that, from Jesus’ resurrection to Pentecost, are marked in a particular way by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is in fact the Easter Gift par excellence. He is the Creator Spirit, who constantly brings about new things.

In 2019 as we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, I am convinced that the Spirit is already actively at work preparing us for a new springtime of growth and abundance in faith in our Church. But I ponder on the question: How can we encourage ourselves to be more alert and open to the Holy Spirit, who is calling us and “gifting” us for the service of the Gospel?

At the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families last year, Pope Francis remarked that it is “the Spirit of God, who constantly breathes new life into our world, into our hearts, into our families, into our homes and parishes.” He said that “each new day in the life of our families, and each new generation, brings the promise of a new Pentecost, a domestic Pentecost, a fresh outpouring of the Spirit, the Paraclete, whom Jesus sends as our Advocate, our Consoler and indeed our Encourager.”

The promise of the Holy Spirit remains with us today. Having just celebrated the feasts of the Ascension and now Pentecost, we can pray earnestly and with all our hearts: “Come Holy Spirit”! Many may remember the beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit which is perfect for these days: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth”.

Friends, reflect with me on the sheer joy and confidence of that prayer! We call on the Holy Spirit because we believe the Spirit can change us and change the world. The Spirit can renew the face of the earth. The Spirit can bring us new life; The Spirit can “rejuvenate” us!

Pentecost continues to speak to those who believe in Jesus. It urges us to live the unity we profess; to serve one another with an unselfish generosity; to let our world see the horror of its slavery to self-interest. The Church began at Pentecost because the Apostles found the courage to unlock the doors of their fear and guilt and let their new life in Jesus be seen – a life that championed unity, harmony, reconciliation. They stepped over the boundaries of the comfortable and the known and dared to share the change in their lives. They were to discover that the world was looking for this kind of life. God’s Spirit had long been at work and all it needed was the human spark to start the fire.

For some 2,000 years now the Church has withstood the devastating ravages of time. It has seen empires rise, flourish and then fall. It has withstood diabolical attempts to destroy it from without and corrupting influences from within. Through it all the permanence and the stability of the Church stand out like a beacon in the night of a sin-darkened world.

The great day of Pentecost is not simply one day in the life of the Church — one solemnity among many. The life of the Church begins with Pentecost, with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church.

What is needed for us all here and now, is for us to re-focus our own spirits and awareness to the Spirit of God. Then we will enjoy the peace, joy and harmony that God gives. And like the Apostles on Pentecost, we will be transformed into courageous and zealous messengers of the truths of our Christian faith.

Pope St John XXIII called for a new Pentecost. That was his prayer, that the Second Vatican Council would be a new Pentecost for the Church around the world. It has not turned out to be quite like that in the 50+ years since the Council. But now is the moment for the cry to rise from the heart of the Church on this Pentecost Sunday 2019.

In a few moments time, I will invite Jackson Saunders to come forward and publicly commit himself to the path to Priesthood in the Catholic Church. In this age, because of the recent publicised failings within the Church and growing secularisation in our nation, many in our world scorn the Church, her teachings and those who lead her. Jackson is aspiring to take his place in sharing in the leadership of the Church in a hostile age. The Holy Spirit working within the Church and within Jackson has brought about this decision and will sustain Jackson and the Church into the future, to the fulfilment of the Church’s mission to proclaim in word and action, God‘s great love of all humanity. It is only through the Holy Spirit that we can dare to confidently embrace the future, and Jackson can dare to take this step, committing himself to the path to Priesthood. With joy, I will accept Jackson’s commitment, relying on the Holy Spirit in my action and the Holy Spirit in Jackson’s life to bring this work to fulfilment. May God who has begun this good work in you, Jackson, bring it to fulfilment.

Come Holy Spirit; Veni Sancte Spiritus. Come into the Church in Australia in new and deeper ways, so that just as Christ rose from the dead, just as the Church was born in the beginning by the power of the Spirit, so too there will be for the Church in this country and at this time, a new birth, a new Pentecost.