Post date: Jun 14, 2019 1:26:46 PM

Homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost (8 & 9/6/19)

When the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles at Pentecost, there was still much work to be done. Christ was hardly known at all outside of the Holy Land. The Church was only in embryonic state. But with the Spirit, the Church took on the known world, and began to take it by storm, even though there were persecutions. The gift of, what we might call today, a form of simultaneous translation, overcame the barrier of different languages. This showed that with the Spirit, all sorts of things are possible, and all sorts of barriers can come tumbling down. But what about today? What are the challenges and how do we overcome them?

In England, and certainly many other countries in the western world, there seems to be a return back to pre-Christian and pre-Holy Spirit ways of life. The rebellion of the evil spirit, Satan, seems to be in vogue, the one who said to God, “I will not serve!” So a civilisation has been built up that is contrary to God and His Law of love, that justifies every form of sin as an exercise of some sort of freedom. People get lost in material things, and we see a rise in hatred, violence and impurity on our screens.

But, things have changed before, and they can change again. If society returns back to a pagan way of life, it can be converted again, through the action of the Holy Spirit. This also requires renewal of the Church.

As the Church, we too need the Spirit. Without the Spirit, we are nothing. We are weak, lacking in faith, at times believing something contrary to the faith of Christ and the Church. We can be like a child that has abandoned its parents and is living on the streets. This is the state to which our sins reduce us.

Renewed by the Holy Spirit, we can be courageous again, reflect the glory of the Lord, full of zeal for evangelisation, and proclaim a message we fully believe in ourselves and live out to the letter. The Holy Spirit can work in us to transform us for the better. As the sequence for Pentecost says, “Bend the stubborn heart and will; Melt the frozen, warm the chill; Guide the steps that go astray.” Under the influence of the Spirit, we can come at last to a fuller understanding of the Gospel, and to realise how we have sold ourselves and the wider world short by mutilating it and trying to make it fit our own ideas and theories and errors.

There is a saying, “Nothing so masks the face of God as religion”. I would say it's truer to say, “Nothing so masks the face of God as false religion” Under the grace of the Holy Spirit, people can finally come to see the real face of Christ reflected in us and be drawn to follow Him, recognising that He is their one and only Saviour.

Present in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost was Our Lady. She wasn't there by mistake. She is the masterpiece of the Holy Spirit. She was conceived without Original Sin and obeyed perfectly the will of the Most Holy Trinity. She is sometimes referred to as “Spouse of the Holy Spirit”. People don't always know what the word “spouse” means. It's not the same as “partner”. A “partner” may or may not be married; a “spouse” is always married. Our Lady is “married” to the Holy Spirit. For this reason, she is a model for all consecrated women, whether nuns, religious sisters, or consecrated single women. The Holy Spirit, as her spouse, made her fruitful, and so she bore Christ. For this reason, she is a model for all Christian mothers as well. Because of her unique role in the Church as Mother of the Redeemer who is Head of the Church, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit, she was present in the Upper Room too, on the day of Pentecost. Our Lady was a presence in the early Church, and she is, too, today.

There have been various apparitions of Our Lady that have been approved by the Church over the last two thousand years (as well as a few that have been declared false or inauthentic in some way). The truth, whole and entire, has been entrusted by Christ to His Church, but we don't always choose to follow all of it, and that is why Our Lady is allowed to appear, to call us to a more authentic following of the faith. It is said many times that Our Lady leads us to her Son. But she also helps us to co-operate with the Holy Spirit. To help us to do this, she has asked through Sr Lucia from Fatima that we consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart. If we voluntarily give ourselves over to her, she can then entrust us to the Holy Spirit, and aid us in being docile to His grace.

So, just like at Pentecost, there is more work to be done in converting the world to Christ. The Holy Spirit managed it before, and with our help and closeness to Our Lady it can be done again.