HOMILY FOR PENTECOST 2019

WHAT IS SOMETHING WE DO ALL THE TIME BUT SELDOM THINK ABOUT IT?

HERE IS A HINT…THE HEBREW WORD FOR SPIRIT IS “RUAH.” THE PRONUNCIATION OF THIS WORD SHOULD HELP YOU. IT MEANS WIND OR BREATH.

DID YOU KNOW THAT THE WORD “CONSPIRE” MEANS TO BREATHE TOGETHER?

LET’S CONSPIRE for a moment!

DO ME A FAVOR, TAKE A DEEP BREATH. NOW HOLD IT. NOW BLOW IT OUT. I FIGURE THAT BECAUSE WE WERE CONSPIRING, WE JUST LAUNCHED A CONSPIRACY! AND IF YOU LISTEN CLOSELY TO THAT WORD “CONSPIRACY,” YOU WILL HEAR THE WORD “SPIRIT” IN THERE ALSO.

– TO CONSPIRE – IS TO BE FILLED WITH THE SAME SPIRIT, TO BE ENLIVENED BY THE SAME WIND.

THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS AMONG US WHEN WE COME TOGETHER TO WORSHIP GOD. THE HOLY SPIRIT SWOOPS IN KNITTING US TOGTHER THROUGH THE SONGS WE SING, THE PRAYERS WE PRAY, THE BREATHS WE BREATHE.

TAKE ANOTHER BREATH. HOLD IT. BLOW IT OUT AGAIN. IF YOU’VE EVER STUDIED EARTH SCIENCE, THEN YOU KNOW THAT OUR PLANET IS WRAPPED IN A PROTECTIVE VEIL WE CALL THE ATMOSPHERE. THE ATMOSPHERE SEPARATES THE AIR WE BREATHE FROM THE COLD VACUUM OF OUTER SPACE. BENEATH THE ATMOSPHERE IS ALL THE AIR THAT EVER WAS. NO CLEANING COMPANY COMES ALONG EVERY HUNDRED YEARS OR SO TO SUCK OUT THE OLD AIR AND PUMP IN SOME NEW AIR. WHILE PLANTS CAN CREATE MORE OXYGEN FOR US TO BREATH, BASICALLY, THE SAME AIR JUST KEEPS RECIRCULATING, WHICH MEANS EVERY TIME ANY OF US BREATHES:

  • WE BREATHE STAR DUST LEFT OVER FROM THE CREATION OF THE WORLD.
  • WE BREATHE DINDSAUR BREATH.
  • WE BREATHE AIR FROM THE RAIN FORESTS OF KENYA AND AIR WHICH IS YELLOW WITH SULFUR FROM MEXICO CITY.
  • WE BREATHE THE SAME AIR PLATO. BREATHED,
  • AND MOZART
  • AND MICHELANGELO…AND JESUS!
  • EVERY TIME WE BREATHE, WE TAKE IN WHAT WAS ONCE SOME BABY’S FIRST BREATH, OR SOME DYING PERSON’S LAST BREATH.

WE TAKE THE AIR IN, WE USE IT TO LIVE, AND WHEN WE BREATHE OUT, IT CARRIES SOME OF US WITH IT INTO THE NEXT PERSON, OR TREE, OR ANIMAL WHO ALSO USES IT TO LIVE.

TAKE ANOTHER BREATH. HOLD IT. BLOW IT OUT AGAIN. I HAVE A SENSE THAT WHEN JESUS WILLINGLY LET GO OF HIS LAST BREATH, FOR LOVE OF US, THAT BREATH HOVERED IN THE AIR IN FRONT OF HIM FOR A MOMENT AND THEN IT WAS SET LOOSE ON THE EARTH.

IT WAS A BREATH – SO FULL OF PASSION, SO FULL OF LIFE – IT DIDN’T SIMPLY DISSIPATE.

INSTEAD… IT GREW IN STRENGTH AND VOLUME UNTIL IT WAS A MIGHTY WIND THAT GOD SENT SPINNING THROUGH AN UPPER ROOM IN JERUSALEM ON PENTECOST DAY CENTURIES AGO.

WE ARE TOLD THAT THERE WERE ABOUT 120 OF THEM, ALL MOPING AROUND WONDERING WHAT THEY WERE GOING TO DO WITHOUT JESUS NOW THAT HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN, WHEN THEY HEARD A MIGHTY WIND BLOW THROUGH THE ENTIRE HOUSE …AND THEY WERE FILLED WITH GOD’S OWN BREATH!! THEN THEY BREATHED OUT AND OUT OF THEM CAME LANGUAGES THEY DID NOT EVEN KNOW THEY KNEW.

         CAN YOU JUST IMAGINE WHAT IT MUST HAVE BEEN LIKE PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD WERE IN JERUSALEM FOR THE FESTIVAL. IMAGINE HOW SURPRIZED THEY WERE TO HEAR THEIR OWN NATIVE LANGUAGE SPOKEN BY STRANGERS – AND NOT JUST ANY STRANGERS – BUT A BUNCH OF GALILEANS – COMMON FISHERMAN FROM NORTHERN ISRAEL DRESSED IN THE EQUIVALENT OF FIRST CENTURY OVERALLS – ALL OF THEM GOING ON AND ON ABOUT GOD’S MIGHTY ACTS LIKE A BUNCH OF PH.D.’S

TAKE ANOTHER BREATH. HOLD IT. BLOW IT OUT AGAIN. WE ARE TOLD THAT BEFORE THE DAY WAS OVER THE CHURCH HAD GROWN FROM 120 TO MORE THAN 3000!!!

BY BREATHING IN THE BREATH OF GOD, THE SHY BECAME BOLD, THOSE WHO WERE LOST FOUND DIRECTION. DISCIPLES WHO DIDN’T THINK THEY COULD TIE THEIR OWN SANDLES WITHOUT JESUS DISCOVERED ABILITIES WITHIN THEMSELVES THEY NEVER KNEW THEY HAD.

  • WHEN THEY OPENED THEIR MOUTHS TO SPEAK, THEY SOUNDED LIKE JESUS.
  • WHEN THEY LAID HANDS UPON THE SICK, IT WAS AS IF JESUS HIMSELF HAD TOUCHED THEM.
  • THEY WERE DOING THINGS THEY HAD ONLY SEEN JESUS DO.

AND THERE WAS NO EXPLANATION FOR IT…

EXCEPT THAT THEY HAD DARED TO INHALE ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST.

THEY BREATHED IN GOD’S OWN BREATH AND WERE TRANSFORMED BY IT.

THE HOLY SPIRIT HAD ENTERED INTO THEM THE SAME WAY THE SPIRIT ENTERED INTO MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS, AND FOR THE SAME REASON. IT WAS TIME FOR GOD TO BE BORN AGAIN ­NOT IN ONE BODY THIS TIME, BUT IN A BODY OF BELIEVERS WHO WOULD RECEIVE THE BREATH OF LIFE FROM THEIR LORD AND PASS IT ON.

TAKE ANOTHER BREATH. HOLD IT. BLOW IT OUT AGAIN. DO WE STILL BELIEVE IN A GOD WHO ACTS THE WAY GOD DID THAT PENTECOST DAY SO LONG AGO?

DO WE STILL BELIEVE IN A GOD WHO BLOWS THROUGH CLOSED DOORS AND SETS OUR HEARTS ON FIRE? DO WE STILL BELIEVE IN A GOD WITH POWER TO TRANSFORM ORDINARY BREAD AND WINE INTO THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST? DO WE STILL BELIEVE THAT GOD HAS THE POWER TO TRANSFORM US, BOTH AS INDIVIDUALS AND AS A PEOPLE?

…OR HAVE WE COME TO AN UNSPOKEN AGREEMENT THAT OUR GOD IS PRETTY OLD AND TIRED BY NOW! SOMEONE TO WHOM WE ADDRESS OUR PRAYER REQUESTS BUT NOT ANYONE WE REALLY EXPECT TO CHANGE OUR LIVES?

EVIDENCE OF THE SPIRIT’S PRESENCE AND ACTION ISN’T THAT DIFFICULT TO SPOT.

  • WHENEVER ONE PLUS ONE PLUS ONE EQUALS ONE,
  •  WHENEVER YOU FIND YOURSELF SPEAKING WITH ELOQUENCE YOU KNOW YOU DO NOT HAVE,
  • OR OFFERING FORGIVENESS YOU HAD NOT MEANT TO OFFER,
  • WHENEVER YOU FIND YOURSELF TAKING RISKS YOU THOUGHT YOU DID NOT HAVE THE COURAGE TO TAKE
  • OR REACHING OUT TO SOMEONE YOU HAD INTENDED TO WALK A WAY FROM

YOU CAN BE SURE THAT THE SPIRIT IS AT WORK IN YOUR HEART.

AND MORE THAN THAT, YOU ARE TAKING PART IN IT, BREATHING IN AND BREATHING OUT, TAKING GOD INTO YOU AND GIVING GOD BACK TO THE WORLD AGAIN.

NOW TAKE A DEEP BREATH. AND JUST KEEP BREATHING.

THIS AIR IS SACRED IT IS IMBUED WITH GOD’S SPIRIT.

OPEN YOU HEART TO THAT SPIRIT AND DISCOVER THE TRUTH THAT ST. PAUL SHARES WITH US IN THE SECOND READING. HAVE THE COURAGE TO SHARE YOUR GIFTS AND TALENTS AND EXPERIENCE ONCE AGAIN THE MIRICLE OF PENTECOST!!

NEXT TIME YOU TAKE A DEEP BREATH RECOGNIZE THE POTENTIAL IN THAT BREATH AND INVITE THE HOLY SPIRIT IN.

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