- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

May 20, 2018

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23

“Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth! You are everywhere present and fill all things. Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord” (Byzantine Liturgy). Today we celebrate the day God sent upon the Church the promised Comforter. It was on this day that the disciples had gathered in prayer and communion. Living in the bond of love, they received the outpouring of the Spirit. With the coming of the Spirit, Christ has fitted us together, as living stones, into a temple fit for his abiding presence. In order for our hearts to be vessels of the Spirit, we must empty ourselves of all that does not reflect life in the Kingdom. In order to be brought to fullness of life in the Spirit, we must learn to live in a communion of faith and love for one another.

The community of believers, gathered together in prayer became the clay that God molded into the Body of His Son, the Church. Then, looking at the New Man he had hand-crafted, God breathed into it His life-creating Spirit. In order to transform them into the Light of the World, the Spirit descended upon the apostles as flames of fire. This fire, like the one Moses saw in the bush, did not consume them. They were inflamed so as to draw other to ascend the heights and encounter the Living God. Those who inhaled the breath of the Spirit found themselves cleansed of sin and living life to the full. Those who inhale the breath of the Spirit are empowered to go into the world and give testimony of God’s infinite mercy.

“Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home shed a ray of light divine!” The Spirit softens the hard of heart like wax melts before the fire. The fire of the Spirit burns away the dross and purifies that which is precious. The Spirit kindles in us the Fire of Divine Love. When the Spirit of the Lord comes to us, He will fill us with grace and help us to understand all that Christ taught. If we trim our sails, He will propel us to the other shore where Christ has gone before us. Wherever Light Divine shines the soul finds the love of Christ and the hope of heaven becomes the anchor of the soul. Overshadowed by the Spirit the disciples were empowered to make visible and tangible the Good News of the Gospel. In all that we do, we are to give glory and honor to the Father, with the Son, in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us an abundance of life so that we can be a light in the darkness for those looking for the path of life. The Spirit has freely given us knowledge of the Truth and has commissioned us to share that Truth with others.

“O most blessed Light divine, shine within these hearts of yours, and our inmost being fill! Where you are not, we have naught, nothing good in deed or thought, and nothing free from taint of ill.” Today, we are given an opportunity to open our hearts to the guiding power of the Holy Spirit. When we ask the Spirit to kindle in our hearts the fire of God’s love, we are asking God to be with us in a close and profound way. Having been enlivened by the Holy Spirit, we are called to walk in the newness of life so as to produce those good fruits that give praise and glory to God. Spending time in the embrace of God is the most important activity of our life. It is in Him that we live and move and have our being.

Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus told his disciples, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and we will come to them and make our dwelling place with them” (Jn. 14:23). My brothers and sisters, we are God’s dwelling place. Today the Spirit of God comes to fill the holy place with the Flame of Divine Love. The amazing truth is that, through outpouring of the Holy Spirit we can know the presence of God and among us wherever we are. As once the Glory of God filled the Temple in Jerusalem, His abiding Spirit now fills us. As the words of the covenant were inscribed on the stone tablets, His living word is now inscribed on our hearts. Those who have received the word are empowered to build each other up in faith and to seek out the lost and invite them to seek healing and forgiveness. In order to do this, we must be willing to meet and serve Christ in all His distressing disguises.

“Heal our wounds, our strength renew; on our dryness pour your dew; Wash the stains of guilt away.” Our Lord Jesus Christ made all things new through His passion, death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit proceeds from the ever-loving Trinity to draw into the communion of Divine Love all the redeemed. Christ died for love of us and he sent the Holy Spirit upon us so that we might live for love of him. Inebriated in the Spirit and consumed by the Fire of Divine Love, we come to understand all that Jesus taught. Today, God is breathing into these vessels of clay, recreating human nature in His image and likeness.  In the light of the Spirit we come to know that, as we stand before God, we are perfectly loved and perfectly lovable.

The Jewish feast of Pentecost was a celebration of the fruitfulness of the land, blest by the sun and rain and “breath” of God. With today’s feast we celebrate how the Spirit, “breath” of God has “in-spirited” every human heart to live in the Light and Life of the Son of God. The Holy Spirit is at so that all mankind may radiate, bring forth Christ again, in the flesh. Having been filled with the breath of the Spirit, we are to be the Body of Christ that pushes itself to the frontiers, never standing still but exerting itself to meet those who hunger and thirst to be welcomed, yearn to share, closeness and solidarity. People who breathe with the breath of the Spirit are not idle bystanders in life. This spirit-initiated mission of the Church requires our collaboration and cooperation. My brothers and sisters, let us open our hearts to God’s recreating Spirit and allow Him to use us as He will for the building up of the kingdom.

“God, of your goodness, give me yourself;
You are enough for me,
And should I ask for anything less
That would not do you full honor.
And if I ask anything that is less,
I shall always lack something,
But in you alone I have everything.”

(Julian of Norwich)