Outpouring of the Holy Spirit – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily May 30, 2020

“This evening we come together to celebrate this great feast of Pentecost that outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the radical transformation that took place in those disciples when the Holy Spirit came upon them.  You know the Holy Spirit came and really transformed their lives.  They were very weak individuals beforehand.  They fled when Jesus was betrayed and crucified.  They locked themselves in the upper room out of fear and remained there and even after Jesus appeared to them they still were frightened and afraid and yet on that great day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon them they were utterly transformed and made into great witnesses for Christ Jesus.  They were transformed so much that they had no fear in going out and proclaiming the Gospel, the Good news of salvation in Christ. 

That action of the Holy Spirit is so manifold in its expression.  Even some of the images that we acknowledge for the Holy Spirit bring about that contrast.  One is ruach which means that driving wind that was referred to in that first reading today that the Holy Spirit came as a driving wind that would shake windows and shake walls but also the Holy Spirit is pneuma is like quiet breath, so gentle.  The Holy Spirit is also dynamis and fire, but then it’s also innocent and gentle as a dove and so we see that there’s many manifestations of the Spirit, some in great power and others in very very subtle, but true ways of transformation.  The primary thing is that we are transformed through the working of the Holy Spirit.  It is that outpouring of the Holy Spirit in baptism that makes us truly members of Christ that we are baptized into the death and the resurrection of Jesus that we truly become one with Christ Jesus.  This pentecost is the birthday of the church because of that infusion of the Holy Spirit into the life of the apostles, but it is through that Holy Spirit who in a very real way is the soul, the life principal of the body of Christ today and so we celebrate baptism, but we also celebrate confirmation that call to be strengthened in the life of the Holy Spirit in order to witness more fully to who God is and how God works in our world.

The sacrament of baptism is the sacrament of discipleship of being followers of Christ of truly becoming adopted sons and daughters sharing in the very life of Christ.  The sacrament of confirmation is the sacrament of being witness it’s the sacrament of being an apostle of going out and sharing the Good News.  From the book of Isiah we reflect on those seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and those gifts are all so very important, but as I was reflecting upon this particular Pentecost it seemed to me that the two most important gifts at least for me and maybe for others as well at this particular time are the gifts of wisdom and the gift of fortitude.  The gift of wisdom is much more than knowledge.  It’s much more than information.  We are so used to being in an information age.  We’re so used to having a lot of human knowledge and all that is good and valuable, but wisdom invites us to something deeper to something higher to something greater for wisdom enables us to see things through the light of faith not just through our human eyes, but through the eyes of God.  That is the gift of wisdom.  It is the gift of wisdom that enables us to have faith in God himself and in the action and the love of God within our life.  It is that understanding that the Holy Spirit gives us that enables us to see things not so much just in the every day.  You know we’re all kind of consumed with all the stuff going on with all these details with all the anxiety that is there whereas the gift of wisdom says, ‘Yes, be concerned about those things, but make sure you see it from a broader perspective.  Make sure you see it as God sees it and not just as we do as weak individuals and so that gift of wisdom is one that is so important for us to have a deeper perspective on life, the meaning the purpose and the ultimate goal of our life to see all things through the eyes of God.  And that gift of fortitude- fortitude means strength it means courage it means that transformation of the heart to truly be strong enough to live our faith.  You know it’s not easy truly being a follower of Christ today.  It’s not easy and that’s one of the things I admire about you as the elect and as candidates of stepping forward and saying, ‘I’m going to follow Christ today’ because that’s not what is popular in our world, in our culture.  More and more we are being asked to compromise to soft pedal to not stand up for what we know is truth but rather to tolerate any opinions or any approaches.  The gift of fortitude there is to strengthen us so that we may be strong enough to live our faith never to put it on to other people with force not that at all, but rather to be strong enough in our own convictions to have that spiritual back bone of being able to be faithful to God even when the world wants to relativize, to compromise and so those two gifts of wisdom and fortitude are such powerful powerful gifts for us that we may understand what our life is about that our mind will be transformed with that vision of God’s perspective and our hearts may be strengthened through the gift of courage of fortitude.  Transformation is what this feast is about not just for our elect and for our candidates, but for each and everyone of us to be continually transformed to become the disciples and the apostles that truly God has called us to become.”