Homily for Pentecost Sunday, Year C (4 & 5/6/22)

posted 6 Jun 2022, 01:19 by Parish Office

Homily for Pentecost Sunday, Year C (4 & 5/6/22)

We live in a confusing time. We find ourselves surrounded by all sorts of confusing messages. It’s like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle, where the pieces are actually from two different boxes, and the one is a picture of a giraffe, whilst the other is a photo of a mountain scene. As Catholics, we are called to be in the world, but not of the world. We live in this world, but without getting engrossed in it. For this world is only temporary – the next world is eternal.

When you’re growing up, you have to negotiate different worlds. There is the world of home, and then the world of school. Different people, different expectations, different forms of reward and punishment. And then, later on, comes the world of work. New rules, new people, and probably a new timetable. Where does God fit into all of this?

It’s not in today’s Gospel reading, but in the next chapter, Our Lord says, “Make your home in me, as I make mine in you” (Jn 15:4). In the midst of all the change and confusion, the mixed messages, the struggles and so on, we need to make room for the Lord. There’s a famous painting, although I can’t remember the name of it, but it was painted a few hundred years ago, and, if my memory serves me correctly, there are two men in the very centre of it, richly dressed, and the backdrop to the painting has a large curtain. At the very edge of the painting you can just see that behind the edge of the curtain is a crucifix. Man is centre-stage, and God has been put away to the very fringe of life, almost unnoticed. Notice that God isn’t completely absent. But He’s not at the heart of life either.

Make your home in me, as I make mine in you.” St Paul tells us in the second reading that we must be interested in spiritual matters, as those who are interested only in the unspiritual can never be pleasing to God. The Holy Spirit, he says, has made His home in us, and because we possess the Spirit of Christ, because He lives in us, we belong to the Lord. When we are baptised, we receive the Holy spirit dwelling within us, what is sometimes also referred to as being in a state of grace. If we commit a serious sin, called a mortal sin, something that is so at odds with our lives as Christians, we lose the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Our lives are dead, and we face the prospect of eternal death in the next life. But through confession, the Holy Spirit can be restored to us. And wow does that make a difference. St Paul continues, “and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you”. It’s not just about heaven in the next life – if the Spirit is living in us now, it makes all the difference. We feel alive; our lives have purpose; everything we do is building God’s kingdom here on earth, and the influence of our good actions has a knock-on effect on others. We might think we haven’t “done” much in a day, but it may be that our influence on one other person has completely changed his or her day.

If we have the Spirit in us, we can overcome our sinful tendencies. We heard in the second reading, “So then, my brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives.” But what is living a spiritual, or an unspiritual, life? We need some concrete examples, otherwise it all just seems a bit vague. Galatians chapter five is where things are spelt out for us. Unspiritual living, or self-indulgence, results in the following: “fornication, gross indecency and … [similar forms of] irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things” (Gal 5:19-20). He also says a bit earlier on, “If you go snapping at each other and tearing each other to pieces, you had better watch or you will destroy the whole community” (Gal 5:15).

Meanwhile, living a life of the Holy Spirit looks rather different: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22).

We can look at those lists and find that both lists describe our lives. And I ought to add that, just because you’ve had a disagreement with someone at some point, it doesn’t mean that you’re now going to burn in hell. But it does show areas where we need God’s forgiveness, and where we need the Holy Spirit more in our lives.

To crown it all, today’s Gospel. Our Lord doesn’t just say we must follow the rules and that we should love the rules. We need to love Him. So if we struggle, as we all do, we need more of His love in our lives.

Living “in the world” is difficult. But thanks be to God for the gift of the Holy Spirit.