Posted by: St. Florence Catholic Church | June 4, 2022

Fr Oscar Hernandez’s Homily – June 4th & 5th 2022 – Pentecost Sunday

Today we are celebrating the Solemnity of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit as a gift from the Risen Lord. The first followers of Jesus were not strong, they were not courageous or even very faithful. They betrayed Jesus. They denied and deserted him when he needed them the most. After his death they hid themselves away in fear. They had lost all heart and hope.

Actually, the Holy Spirit had already been given to the disciples when Jesus appeared to them after the resurrection. He breathed on them the Holy Spirit by saying: “Received the Holy Spirit… do not be afraid.” But still, they remained sad and afraid that what happened to Jesus Christ might also happen to them. It was only after 50 days that the apostles finally realized that the Holy Spirit did, indeed, descend upon them and they became courageous.

The first reading said that the strangest thing happens to the disciples: The house shakes with the sound of a mighty wind and the sight of fire! These weak and frail men and women were transformed. Through the Holy Spirit, they are given new hope, a new heart and new purpose. 

Their fear and silence is replaced by courage and conviction. They leave their hiding place and make their way into the streets and proclaim the good news of the resurrection. They become new people with a new message. At this very moment the missionary church is born.

We are no different than these ordinary men and women; many times, we feel anguish, fear, sadness, we are not strong. Today’s Gospel said that Jesus enters where the disciples are and the first thing he gives them is peace, then he tells them: “receive the Holy S What we most need right now is strength from the high, because we are going to face life not with our weakness, but with strength, of the Holy Spirit. 

We have an extraordinary strength that does not come from us, it is the strength of the Holy Spirit in us, which comes when we invoke him. The word Paraclete means: “the one who comes when he is called, when he is invoked.

Cardinal Van Thuân was a prisoner in his homeland Vietnam for 13 years, during the communist persecution. He celebrated Mass with three drops of wine and one of water in the palm of his hand. 

He tells in one of his books: “The Road of Hope” an episode about the Holy Spirit. One day while he was in his cell, without strength, without encouragement, without hope, he no longer ate, he felt abandoned by God. Suddenly, he heard a soldier sing a song in Latin, because Van Thuan inside the prison taught Latin classes to his companions; and this soldier while guarding memorized the song without knowing what it said:  “Veni, creator Spiritus, mentes tuorum visita, imple superna gratia, quae tu creasti pectora”

Van Thuân thought, how is it possible that this soldier without faith, without knowing what he is saying is invoking: “Veni Creator“. He said: that was a sign from the Holy Spirit for me, and he incorporated and called the Holy Spirit there, then he cried”. 

Sisters and brothers, even though we do not see the Holy Spirit, as they saw Him in the first reading, but we are aware that He is at work in our lives. We cannot see the wind and do not know where it comes from or where it is going but we see its effects. We received the Holy Spirit during our Baptism and Confirmation. But why does he not change our lives as He changed that of the apostles? Why do we behave in many ways like pagans as if we have never received the Holy Spirit?  Because the Holy Spirit inspires us to do good things, but it is up to us to accept them or ignore His promptings. It is necessary to be docile, humble to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is powerful, life-changing, and energetic. The Holy Spirit challenges us and calls us to change. Saint Oscar Romero, the Salvadorian Bishop who was murdered in 1978 said, ‘The Spirit makes all things new; we are the ones who grow old and want to keep everything to our aged way of doing things… the Spirit is never old, the Spirit is always young.’

As we celebrate the birth of the missionary church, we pray that each of us will be refreshed and renewed by the Holy Spirit. May we do what Pope Francis asks of each of us, ‘Go out again and again, without fear and proclaim this joy which is for all people.

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