Liberation Of Pentecost – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily June 9, 2019

“Today we celebrate the conclusion of the Easter season, but a whole opening up to a new phase in the liturgical and our spiritual life as we are invited to truly welcome the Holy Spirit, that Spirit that descended upon the Apostles on Pentecost that Spirit that continues to live within us and among us that we are called to truly recognize and cooperate with the workings of the Holy Spirit and so this Pentecost Sunday is an opportunity for us to come to a deeper awareness to the presence and the action of the Holy Spirit within our lives and within our world.  There are many images of the Holy Spirit and I’m always reminded on Pentecost and I’ll admit that this is an old story, but of a particular pastor who one time wanted to be more dramatic on Pentecost and he wanted to really emphasize to his congregation the presence of the Holy Spirit and so he got his custodian the day before and he showed the custodian this dove and there was a dove there in this little cage and the dove was there and he said, ‘Now Jack what I want you to do is tomorrow during my sermon when I say, The Lord sent down the Holy Spirit, I want you to release the dove and then the dove is gonna fly all over the congregation and the people will really be impressed with the reminder of the presence of the Holy Spirit.’  He said, ‘Ok Reverend, ok.’ So the next day the pastor gets up and he’s preaching and he comes to that dramatic moment in his sermon and he says, ‘And the Lord sent down his Holy Spirit!’ Nothing happened and he said, ‘And at that time the Lord sent down his Holy Spirit.’ Nothing happened so he looks up in the choir loft and there’s the poor custodian and he says, ‘Sorry Reverend, the cat done ate the Holy Spirit.’ That is a reminder never to use props in church, but also it’s a reminder that yes, one of the images of the Holy Spirit is the dove and the dove can be that symbol of peace and certainly the work of the Spirit is that of peace of bringing about a wholeness to our hearts. There’s many images though of the Holy Spirit.  Another one is the word dunamis in Greek which means dynamite, power. The Holy Spirit is truly power it’s the power of God bringing about transformation and new life. Another is pneuma. Pneuma means breath and pneuma reminds us that the Holy Spirit is as close to us as our own breath is that through our baptism our confirmation, the Holy Spirit has been poured into our bodies into our very lives and that we should be aware of that and just as the breath is so important and purifying as we exhale carbon dioxide also it is crucial that we bring oxygen into our bodies and that Holy Spirit truly enlivens the whole body for truly the soul is the life principal for this physical body of our so the Holy Spirit is the life principal for the body of Christ that was referred to in our second reading today that we are all part of the body of Christ because we share in the very life of the Holy Spirit.

Another image in scripture for the Holy Spirit is ruach and ruach means wind, a loud rushing wind and that’s an appropriate symbol for the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is like the wind.  You know you never see the wind. If anybody here has ever seen the wind, let me know afterwards, but we never see the wind, we see the effects of the wind. We see the leaves, the branches swaying, we see the grass waving, we see the grass waving, we see something blowing across the parking lot so we see the effects of the wind, but we really don’t see the wind and so we are reminded that the Holy Spirit is known more by its results than by particularly direct insight or seen and the Holy Spirit truly wants to enter in and to transform our lives to transform our minds and our hearts to transform us and to make us into new people and that is the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.  St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians talks about the fruits of the Holy Spirit and these are signs of the Holy Spirit within our own lives and as we are growing in these qualities we are truly growing spiritually we are experiencing the effects of the Holy Spirit transforming us and hopefully we are all growing in these, but he says, ‘The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generocity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’ Those are the fruits of the Holy Spirit and we are all challenged to be open to that Spirit that can transform us to make those things ever more alive within our own lives that fidelity to Christ Jesus that openness to that life that Christ brings us.

This past week someone sent me something, a little piece on the Holy Spirit and I thought it had some nice insights so I’ll share it with you.

‘The Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to his followers is the great gift of God.  Without the Holy Spirit of Jesus we can do nothing, but in and through his Spirit we can live free, joyful, and courageous lives.We cannot pray, but the Spirit of Christ can pray in us.
We cannot create peace and joy, but the Spirit of Christ can fill us with a peace and joy that is not of this world.We cannot break through the many barriers that divides races, sexes, and nations, but the Spirit of Christ unites all people in an all embracing love of God.
The spirit of Christ burns away our many fears and anxieties and sets us free to move wherever we are sent.  This is the great liberation of Pentecost.’

This feast of Pentecost invites us to a deeper awareness of the Holy Spirit within our lives and a deeper openness to the Holy Spirit in prayer.  I hope that we pray daily to the Holy Spirit. My experience though is that for most of us the Spirit is the neglected person of the trinity. We pray to God the Father, we pray to Jesus, but we don’t pray as much to the Holy Spirit and yet we live in the age of the Holy Spirit for the Spirit has been sent forth.  The Spirit dwells within us and among us bringing about new life.

You know the cat doesn’t eat the Holy Spirit, but there are things that can destroy the life of the Spirit within us and those things we can really need to be careful of:

  • That complacency that may enter into our spirituality
  • That sense of embracing one or other sin and not striving to overcome it
  • There’s divisions that may be there that we hold on to rather than allow healing to take place
  • The Spirit of this world that is so often in contrast to the truth and the love that God has revealed to us

Those are the things that can destroy our own life in the Spirit, but through the gift of the Spirit we are called to new life, to greater holiness, to truly continue to grow in that Spirit of Jesus, truly the Spirit of truth, the spirit of love. The spirit that gives us already that gift of everlasting life.”