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Pentecost, May 26-27, 2012

posted May 28, 2012, 12:06 PM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

            I have a priest friend who, whenever he's out and sees young parents struggling with crying, unruly, or generally wild kids, this priest friend likes to say:

“Celibacy is its own reward.”

If that’s what parenting is about, then “celibacy is its own reward.”


            My priest friend is kidding, of course.

And personally, though I think that his comment is kind of funny …  I’d rather say that … “with each vocation that God gives, comes the grace to live it.”

Personally, as  a priest and a celibate, I marvel at the challenge of being a good parent.

Parents have to be so adaptive, so prudent, so discerning as to what their child needs at any particular moment.

Sometimes, a parent must be firm or challenging or even stern …

At other times, the parent has to be encouraging, supportive, tender …

At still other times … patient or teasing or playful …

Parenting requires a lot of adaptability … a willingness to use different skills at different times … knowing when to pull out which tool out of that parental “bag of tricks” …


            And so, God is with us.

So too is our Heavenly Father with us, his children.

God has his own “bag of tricks” to deal with us … according to our need in whatever situation, wherever we might find ourselves …

And nowhere is this more clear than in his gift of his Holy Spirit


            In the Gospel, today we find the disciples hiding in Upper Room ... fearful, unsure, anxious …

Jesus has been crucified. They don’t know what to do. They’re confused about what his life and teaching meant after all.  They’re afraid of the Jews.

And so, when the risen Jesus appears to them for the first time as a group … the Lord, like a good parent, sees exactly what they need at that moment, and he says to them:

“Peace be with you.”

And he breathes on them a Spirit of peace.

The Lord gives them a Spirit of peace, because he sees that peace is precisely what they need at that moment.


            And so he is with us.

When we feel fearful, unsure, anxious … he sends a Spirit of peace to us as well.

“Peace be with you,” he says to us … as he breathes on us that unseen Spirit of Peace.


            Then, in the first reading ... (a scene which actually takes place after the story in today's Gospel) … well, those disciples are still up there in that Upper Room.

They haven’t moved.

They haven’t taken up the mission.

They haven’t gotten the message.
And so, the Lord sees that what those disciples need now is a good swift kick in the pants … a jump start … some fire in their bellies … or maybe  a flame in the seat of their pants.

And so, at that moment, the Lord sends the Spirit on the them in the form of fire … a Spirit of excitement, a Spirit of enthusiasm, a Spirit of empowerment … and so those timid disciples jump up, throw open those shutters,  and they start hootin’ and a hollerin’ and preaching the Good News and speaking in languages they didn’t even know 

… because that’s the Spirit as they needed him at that moment.


            And maybe, at this moment, that's what you and I need for the Lord to do for us

Surely, all of us need a little “faith-fire” in our bellies from time to time.

The life of faith can become so "hum drum" ... so "ho-hum" … so routine ...

And it ought not to be.

Maybe you and I need today, as we celebrate Pentecost, what those disciples got in that Upper Room two thousand years ago … a good swift spiritual kick in our “faith-pants” ... with the outpouring of a Spirit of fire.


            But in whatever circumstance ... our Lord is like a good parent … and he gives what we need when we need it.

Now, a Spirit of peace … when we are fearful, unsure, anxious …

A Spirit of empowerment … when faith has become too routine

A Spirit of consolation when we’re down

A Spirit of discernment … when we’re in need of guidance

A Spirit of truth … when we’re, in fact, ignorant (without even knowing it)...

A Spirit of his simple presence … when we feel alone

Like a good parent, the Lord gives us the Spirit as we personally need it at any particular moment.


            But, as any parent can tell us …

Children aren’t always open to what the parent wants to give …

Sometimes kids don’t want the sound guidance that they need 

They don’t want the prudent advice being offered …

Sometimes, children don’t want the challenge which, in fact, they need

Sometimes, kids don’t want the support, the encouragement, the tenderness of the person who most wants to give it.


            And so, you and I are with God.

At every moment … at each and every moment … God is offering the Spirit that we need … the Spirit exactly as we need him at that very moment …

But so often we are distracted … inattentive … resistive …

We are unwelcoming … closed … ungrateful for what God is offering … even though it is what we most need.


            But today is different …

Or at least today could be different .

Because today is Pentecost … today is the day that we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit … today is the Spirit’s Day 

Whether it’s a Spirit of peace … or a spiritual kick in the pants … whatever we need at this moment … let’s open our hearts … our minds … or souls … because whatever it is that we need at this moment … at this moment, the Lord desperately … lovingly … wants to give it.