The Solemnity of Pentecost

Today’s readings

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
w
ho proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

We say these words every Sunday, and unfortunately I think they can become a little rote.  And that’s too bad, because they are beautiful words, and they have been given to us at great cost.  We should pray them perhaps a bit more reflectively today, on this feast of the Holy Spirit.

So these words are the part of the Creed that speaks of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, whose feast we celebrate today.  Today is the birthday of the Church, the moment when the Spirit descended upon those first Apostles and was passed on through them to every Christian ever since.  The Holy Spirit emboldened those first disciples and continues to pour gifts on all of us so that the Church can continue the creative and redemptive works of the Father and the Son until Christ comes in glory.  That is what we gather to celebrate today.

At the Ascension of Christ into heaven, which we celebrated last Sunday, the apostles had been told to wait in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.  This is exactly what we celebrate today.  Christ returned to the Father in heaven, and they sent the Holy Spirit to be with the Church until the end of time.  That Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary so that God can continue to work in the world and be in the world while Christ was no longer physically present.

I don’t know if we understand how radically the Holy Spirit changes things.  The Fathers of the Church wrote about it very plainly.  Saint Cyril of Alexandria writes: “It can be easily shown from examples both in the Old Testament and the New that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell; he so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life.  Saul was told by the prophet Samuel: The Spirit of the Lord will take possession of you, and you shall be changed into another man.  Saint Paul writes: As we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, that glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit, transforms us all into his own likeness, from one degree of glory to another.”

And we do see the work of the Holy Spirit on those disciples of the early Church.  They were confused people.  They had no idea what to do now that Jesus had died and risen.  Think about it.  What if you were there?  What would you have made of all that?  Would you know what to do next any better than they would?  I don’t think I’d do very well!  But it was the Holy Spirit that changed them.  And thank God for that, or we wouldn’t have the Church to guide us today!

The Spirit changed Peter from an impulsive, bumbling disciple to an Apostle of great strength.  He shared his own gift of the Holy Spirit with many others, baptizing them and confirming them in the faith.  He guided the Church from its rough beginnings to the birth of something great.  The other Apostles likewise went out, bringing the Gospel and the gift of the Holy Spirit to all corners of the then-known world.  Their witness eventually brought the Church to us, in our own day.  The Spirit changed Saul from a man who oversaw the imprisonment and murder of Christians into Paul, a man who was on fire for the faith.  His preaching and writing converted whole communities of Gentiles and helped them believe in the Gospel, and continues to inspire us in our own day.

The Holy Spirit has continued to work in the hearts and minds of countless saints through the ages, making up for any personal inadequacies they may have had and giving them the strength to teach truth, write convincing testimonials, reach out to the poor and needy, bind up the broken and bring hurting souls to the Lord.

That same Holy Spirit continues to work among us in our own day, if we are open, if we let him do what he wills.  The Holy Spirit is still making saints, guiding men and women to do things greater than they are capable of all on their own, for the honor and glory of God.  This is the Spirit who enables you to have words to speak to someone who is questioning the faith, or to a child who wants to know why the sky is blue, or to a friend who needs advice that you don’t know how to give.  The Spirit even speaks for us when we are trying to pray and don’t know quite what to say to God.

The Spirit gives us the inspiration to do acts of mercy and love.  It is the Holy Spirit who encourages you to take on a ministry at church, or to coach a softball team, or to look in on a sick friend or neighbor, or give an elderly parishioner a ride to church.  It is the Spirit who inspires us to pray in new ways, to grow in devotion, to spend more time getting closer to the Lord.  All in all, it is the Holy Spirit who helps us to find the way to heaven, the goal of all of our lives.

We should pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit every morning of our lives.  It’s amazing how much that changes me over time.  The prayer I learned at my Confirmation is as good a way to pray that as any, and maybe you know it too.  If you do, pray along with me:

Come, Holy Spirit
fill the hearts of your faithful
enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Amen.

The Solemnity of Pentecost

Today’s readings

No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. That line from Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians at the beginning of our second reading today says more about the Holy Spirit than we might catch at first.

Words contain a lot of power. We know that well, because lots of times we say the wrong things and we see how it upsets people we love. And equally we experience the power of someone saying just the right thing at the right time and we see how that expression of love changes everything. Words can convey a range of emotions from love to hate, and everything in between. Words can start an argument, but the right words can diffuse a really bad situation. We’ve seen it thousands of times.

Most of us receive the gift of speech at birth, and come into it during our childhood. We develop the gift of speech throughout our lives, perhaps learning foreign languages, or become skilled speakers. Speech is crucial to living in society.

But it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to say anything really good. The only way that we can say “Jesus is Lord,” as Saint Paul tells us, is by the Holy Spirit. The only way that we can witness to the faith, is by the Holy Spirit. That was true of the first Apostles. Remember what happened to them right after the events of Good Friday. They scattered. When they did speak, they put their foot in their mouths. Peter used his gift of speech to deny that he even knew the Lord, let alone witness to the Lord’s power to save. At that time, the Apostles couldn’t even wrap words around what was going on in their own minds, so they were never going to be able to spread the Gospel.

Until Pentecost. Receiving the gift of the promised Holy Spirit, the Advocate that Jesus promised to send them, they are able not only to preach the Gospel, but to preach it in a way that people who spoke different languages were all able to understand it. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit brings everything together for them, and now, only now, are they able to say that Jesus is Lord!

The absence of the Holy Spirit is unparalleled sadness. We can’t say – or do – anything really good without the advocacy of the Holy Spirit to inspire – literally breath into us – the goodness for which we were created. The sequence today proclaimed it well:

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

So when we receive the Holy Spirit, we are inspired to say and do good things too. The Holy Spirit will inspire us to speak many kinds of words in many situations. We can depend on the Spirit to give us the words when we don’t have them. Saint Paul teaches that the Spirit even prays in us when we can’t pray, expressing our needs in groanings when we can’t find the words to say. So the Holy Spirit will inspire us to speak…

  • Words of comfort to those who are going through difficult times. Maybe just by being with them and saying nothing at all.
  • Words of challenge when we are in a situation that is veering off course, and others are urging us to go the wrong way.
  • Words of correction when a child is acting out or not living up to their full potential.
  • Words of reconciliation when we seek to heal a broken relationship.
  • Words of vision when we are part of a group that is seeking to do something new.
  • Words of healing when we comfort another person who has been wronged by others.
  • Words of change when we stand up for what is right in a society that wants to do what it wants to do.
  • Words of mercy when we let go of a grudge, or forgive someone who has hurt us.

The Holy Spirit will give us the right words for all of this at the right time, and we will be able to speak them in a way that everyone who needs to understand them can understand them. We may never be able to speak multiple languages – God knows I can’t! – but in the Holy Spirit we will be able to proclaim that Jesus is Lord in our words and actions and no one will be able to miss the significance of that – everyone will understand it.

The Solemnity of Pentecost

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
w
ho proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

We say these words every Sunday, and unfortunately I think they can become a little rote.  And that’s too bad, because they are beautiful words, and they have been given to us at great cost.  We should pray them perhaps a bit more reflectively today, on this feast of the Holy Spirit.

So these words are the part of the Creed that speaks of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, whose feast we celebrate today.  Today is the birthday of the Church, the moment when the Spirit descended upon those first Apostles and was passed on through them to every Christian ever since.  The Holy Spirit emboldened those first disciples and continues to pour gifts on all of us so that the Church can continue the creative and redemptive works of the Father and the Son until Christ comes in glory.  That is what we gather to celebrate today.

At the Ascension of Christ into heaven, which we celebrated last Sunday, the apostles had been told to wait in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.  This is exactly what we celebrate today.  Christ returned to the Father in heaven, and they sent the Holy Spirit to be with the Church until the end of time.  That Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary so that God can continue to work in the world and be in the world while Christ was no longer physically present.

I don’t know if we understand how radically the Holy Spirit changes things.  The Fathers of the Church wrote about it very plainly.  Saint Cyril of Alexandria writes: “It can be easily shown from examples both in the Old Testament and the New that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell; he so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life.  Saul was told by the prophet Samuel: The Spirit of the Lord will take possession of you, and you shall be changed into another man.  Saint Paul writes: As we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, that glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit, transforms us all into his own likeness, from one degree of glory to another.”

And we do see the work of the Holy Spirit on those disciples of the early Church.  They were confused people.  They had no idea what to do now that Jesus had died and risen.  Think about it.  What if you were there?  What would you have made of all that?  Would you know what to do next any better than they would?  I don’t think I’d do very well!  But it was the Holy Spirit that changed them.  And thank God for that, or we wouldn’t have the Church to guide us today!

The Spirit changed Peter from an impulsive, bumbling disciple to an Apostle of great strength.  He shared his own gift of the Holy Spirit with many others, baptizing them and confirming them in the faith.  He guided the Church from its rough beginnings to the birth of something great.  The other Apostles likewise went out, bringing the Gospel and the gift of the Holy Spirit to all corners of the then-known world.  Their witness eventually brought the Church to us, in our own day.  The Spirit changed Saul from a man who oversaw the imprisonment and murder of Christians into Paul, a man who was on fire for the faith.  His preaching and writing converted whole communities of Gentiles and helped them believe in the Gospel, and continues to inspire us in our own day.

The Holy Spirit has continued to work in the hearts and minds of countless saints through the ages, making up for any personal inadequacies they may have had and giving them the strength to teach truth, write convincing testimonials, reach out to the poor and needy, bind up the broken and bring hurting souls to the Lord.

That same Holy Spirit continues to work among us in our own day, if we are open, if we let him do what he wills.  The Holy Spirit is still making saints, guiding men and women to do things greater than they are capable of all on their own, for the honor and glory of God.  This is the Spirit who enables you to have words to speak to someone who is questioning the faith, or to a child who wants to know why the sky is blue, or to a friend who needs advice that you don’t know how to give.  The Spirit even speaks for us when we are trying to pray and don’t know quite what to say to God.

The Spirit gives us the inspiration to do acts of mercy and love.  It is the Holy Spirit who encourages you to take on a ministry at church, or to coach a softball team, or to look in on a sick friend or neighbor, or give an elderly parishioner a ride to church.  It is the Spirit who inspires us to pray in new ways, to grow in devotion, to spend more time getting closer to the Lord.  All in all, it is the Holy Spirit who helps us to find the way to heaven, the goal of all of our lives.

We should pray for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit every morning of our lives.  It’s amazing how much that changes me over time.  The prayer I learned at my Confirmation is as good a way to pray that as any, and maybe you know it too.  If you do, pray along with me:

Come, Holy Spirit
fill the hearts of your faithful
enkindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created,
and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Amen.

Easter Monday

Today’s readings

Well, it wasn’t all that long ago that we saw the disciples scatter in fear, was it?  Here they had seen their friend arrested, tortured, and killed, so one could not blame them for running scared.  I’m sure I would have done no different if I had been them.

But in today’s first reading, we see them different.  They have witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, they have seen him alive.  More than that, they have been filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit, that great gift he had promised them all along.  And so now they get it.  Now they realize what he had been saying to them, and now they have courage and fortitude to proclaim the Gospel.

“God raised this Jesus, of this we are all witnesses,” Peter says on their behalf.  They have entered into mystagogia … that time following a great event when those involved look back on what they have experienced, and come to new understandings based on those experiences.  Their mystagogia of the Easter event has given them fresh hope and courage, and has empowered them to proclaim the message.

We didn’t have any baptisms here this Easter Vigil, but many were baptized into the Church and Christ Jesus throughout the world.  They are experiencing mystagogia in these days.  They are looking back on their reception into full communion with us, and reflecting on what they have learned and how they have grown in their faith.  We cradle Catholics also experience mystagogia in these days.  Our baptisms are not as fresh in our minds as are the baptisms of our new brothers and sisters, but we recall with gratitude and profound joy the saving sacrifice that has given us hope of new life.  So we too, like the apostles, are empowered to proclaim the message.

God has raised this Jesus from the dead, and we are witnesses of these things, brothers and sisters in Christ.  Praise God!  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!

 

The Solemnity of Pentecost

Today’s readings

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the prophets.

You know those words very well; we proclaim them every Sunday, and will proclaim them in a few minutes.  This is the part of the Creed that speaks of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, whose feast we celebrate today.  Today is the birthday of the Church, the moment when the Spirit descended upon those first Apostles and was passed on through them to every Christian ever since.  The Holy Spirit emboldened those first disciples and continues to pour gifts on all of us so that the Church can continue the creative and redemptive works of the Father and the Son until Christ comes in glory.  That is what we gather to celebrate today.

At the Ascension of Christ into heaven, which we celebrated last Sunday, the apostles had been told to wait in the city until they were clothed with power from on high.  This is exactly what we celebrate today.  Christ returned to the Father in heaven, and they sent the Holy Spirit to be with the Church until the end of time.  That Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary so that God can continue to work in the world and be in the world while Christ was no longer physically present.

The Holy Spirit works in us and in the world in so many ways.  But the way that he works in us that jumps out at me today is through language.  The Spirit is speaking powerfully in the world, and our Liturgy reminds us of that.  It is the Holy Spirit that speaks to the world in the voice of God.  Consider what we have heard and will yet hear today:

In the alternate opening prayer, the Church prays:  “Loosen our tongues to sing your praise in words beyond the power of speech, for without your Spirit man could never raise his voice in words of peace or announce the truth that Jesus is Lord.”

In our first reading, the Spirit spoke through the apostles.  Even though all of them were Galileans, and spoke some dialect of Aramaic, still people who had gathered in Jerusalem from all over the then-known world, people of every race and language group at that time, all of them came to hear the Gospel proclaimed in their very own language, as though it had been spoken just for them, which of course, it was.  This incredible miracle is often seen as the undoing of the Tower of Babel story, in which men who thought they could build a tower high enough to get to heaven all by themselves were penalized by the invention of all kinds of human languages which prevented people from speaking to each other.  Pentecost, then, was the healing of this ill.

In our Gospel, words are still used by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus tells the apostles even before the Passion, that he would send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate or Paraclete who would teach them everything, and remind them of all Jesus told him while he was alive.

In the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer, which I will sing in a few minutes, the Church prays: “Today we celebrate the great beginning of your Church when the Holy Spirit made known to all peoples the one true God, and created from the many languages of man one voice to profess one faith.”

The Holy Spirit speaks to us to give us what we need, and speaks through us in order to bring the world to God.  The Spirit is the voice of the Church proclaiming the one, true faith, and the voice of each disciple courageously living that faith day in and day out.  Jesus tells us elsewhere in the Gospel that when we are challenged for our faith, we need not fear that we do not have the words to speak in those moments, because the Holy Spirit will speak through us more eloquently than we could on our own.

The Holy Spirit is also the voice of our prayer.  Saint Paul reminds us of what we certainly know: we do not know how to pray as we ought.  But he also reminds us that we need not worry when words fail us and we cannot pray, because the Holy Spirit groans within us and speaks the language of God who hears us and hears the Spirit in us.

I am not a master of languages.  I tried but failed to learn French, Spanish and Greek at various times in my life.  Some days I even have trouble with English!  And so not having the words to speak is very real to me in my Spiritual life.  But I certainly learned what Saint Paul taught in my second year in seminary, when both my mother and father were diagnosed with cancer within about a month of each other.  When that happened, I had no idea what to even say to God any more.  The only prayer that I had in me was “help.”  And that, along with the Spirit’s groaning, was enough.  Fellow seminarians prayed for me and with me and over me, and I was eventually able to pray again.  That was the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit speaks to us all the time, I think, and we would do well to tune in and listen closely.  The Spirit speaks when we are about to embark on a venture or come to a decision and gives us pause because we have not prayed the issue well enough. The Spirit speaks to us when we are agitated or worried or upset or frustrated or dejected, and gives us peace to know we are not alone, that God is there with us in the storm.  The Spirit speaks to us when we are discerning and helps us to know the way we should go.

Then too, the Holy Spirit speaks in us and through us all the time. The Spirit speaks through us when we know something is wrong and gives us the courage to say so.  The Spirit speaks through us whenever we offer someone kind words, even if we’re not sure that our words are helpful – the Spirit even speaks through us if we have no words, and are just there to be present to those in need.  The Spirit speaks through us when we perceive the injustice in our world and reach out to those in need, to those who are marginalized, and to those the world has forgotten.  The Spirit sings in us when we join with the Church in prayer and praise to God, especially when we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, the greatest prayer of the Church.  The Spirit is the one who puts the prayers we offer in our hearts in the first place, and who gives us the words to offer them to God, even groaning for us when our own words are not adequate.

When we are one, united in the Spirit, we speak to a world that is not inclined to understand the language of faith, in a way that moves them and brings them back to God who created the many peoples of the world to be one with him forever.  That is the great project of our lives, the great project of the Church, the mission that owns us and defines us as disciples.  As Cardinal George is fond of saying, the Church does not have a mission; the Mission has a Church.  And it is that Church that speaks words of the Spirit to proclaim the truth, that Jesus is Lord, and that he is the way, the truth and the life.

In the Creed, we proclaim that the Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets.  But that prophetic word is far from over.  The Spirit-spoken prophecy goes on, in the words and actions of people of faith, every day in every place, so that all people can have the opportunity to know the truth that God is alive and fully intends to love his people into heaven.

The Solemnity of Pentecost

Today’s readings

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!

veni_creatorI have come to discover about myself that I am not real good at languages. I took a couple of years of French in junior high and I don’t think I remember one word of it. In high school and in college, I took Spanish, and I was okay with it, but never got to the point of being able to have a conversation in Spanish. In seminary, I went to Mexico for six weeks to learn Spanish, and discovered that wasn’t even close to long enough. I can muddle through a little Spanish in the Liturgy, but to preach in Spanish or hear a confession in Spanish is insurmountable to me. I also took one unit of Greek in seminary, and that was almost disastrous. I was glad it was a zero-credit-hour class, so it didn’t get me thrown out on academic probation! I think some people are good with languages, and some are not; that ability is truly one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But, the disciples in our first reading weren’t picked out for their especially good facility with languages either. They were ordinary men, who probably didn’t even have the grammar of their native language down to a science. On these men, the Spirit descended and gave them the gift of proclaiming the Gospel in every language of the known world. This event is miraculous, I think, on two counts. First and obviously, they are given the ability to speak in languages they did not already know. Second, they were given the gift of being able to speak out boldly on behalf of the Gospel. These are men who would not necessarily have commanded the respect or attracted the attention of anyone. They weren’t naturally gifted in public speaking. Yet, they are able to proclaim the Gospel boldly and convincingly, making the message known in the ear of anyone who heard it, regardless of their native language.

This was the first manifestation of the Spirit in the fledgling Church, indeed in some ways it is the birthday of the Church. The Spirit came in power to fill ordinary men with grace to proclaim the Gospel and make it heard by everyone on earth. This is the beginning of the fulfillment of Jesus’ command last week at his ascension: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” They had no idea how to do that before the Spirit came; now they have the power of the Spirit to speak to every creature in every part of the world in a language that could be understood.

We’ve gathered today on the Solemnity of Pentecost … the commemoration of this great event. Today, we have one last opportunity to celebrate the joy of the Easter season. For fifty days, we’ve been celebrating our Lord’s resurrection, his triumph over the grave, and his defeat of sin and death. We’ve been celebrating our salvation, because Christ’s death and resurrection has broken down the barriers that have kept us from God and has made it possible for us to live with God forever. In the last week, we’ve been celebrating our Lord’s Ascension, with His promise that though He is beyond our sight, He is with us always. And today, today we celebrate the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, poured out on the Church, who breathes life into all of us, giving us the power to accomplish the preaching of the Gospel.

The Hebrew word for Spirit is ruah, with is the same word they use for “breath.” So the Spirit who hovered over the waters of the primordial world also breathed life into our first parents, giving them not just spiritual life, but physical life, and life in all its fullness. The psalmist today makes it very clear that this Holy Spirit is the principle of life for all of us: “you take back your spirit, they perish and return to the dust from which they came; when you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps. 104:34).

That renewing of the earth is accomplished in so many different ways. But the most important way is by the preaching of the Gospel. All of us who have been given to drink of the dew of the Spirit are called upon to preach the Gospel. We may not, as St. Francis suggests, use words all the time, but we must continually express the Gospel in every single moment. Our families need to experience the Spirit in the way that we love them and care for them. People in our workplaces need to experience the Spirit in the integrity we bring to our businesses and the concern we show to employees, employers, colleagues and customers. People in our schools need to experience the Spirit in the way that we learn or teach. People in our communities need to experience the Spirit in the way that we reach out to the needy among us. People in our world need to experience the Spirit in the way that we treat the earth and join efforts to help the poor in other lands.

We need to be a people, filled with the Spirit, who fill our families, workplaces, schools, communities and our world with the grace of the Spirit by the way that we live. We were not given the gifts of the Holy Spirit to keep them for ourselves. They have been poured out on us in order to share with others and join in the Spirit’s effort to re-create the whole world.

Our second reading reminds us that no one can say, “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit that gives us the grace to say anything truly worthwhile. In our own parish, we value the gift of shared wisdom. This is the way that our commissions and committees discuss issues and make decisions. Ultimately, we don’t vote on an issue; we look for consensus, we strive to come to a decision that everyone can live with, through the process of shared wisdom, guided by none less than the Holy Spirit.

But this process of sharing wisdom is a great responsibility. It means two things. First, it means that if the Holy Spirit gives us something to say on an issue, we have no business keeping it to ourselves. We must engage others in dialogue about what’s right, or we run the risk of grieving the Holy Spirit, which we never want to do! Second, it means that we don’t just say the first thing that rolls off our tongue; we don’t fire off that terse email when we’re angry and can hide behind a keyboard; we wait for the gift of the Spirit, we pray, and we engage each other face-to-face. In my time here at St. Raphael’s, I’ve come to treasure this gift of shared wisdom – you taught that to me. That doesn’t mean that any of us – you or me – have always done it perfectly, but I love that we have been learning it together.

This process of shared wisdom and consensus seeking is another way that we as a parish strive to speak the Gospel in language we might not have as part of our native tongue. The Spirit gives us the words to speak, the prayers to pray, the wisdom to share when we don’t have them. And together, we all cry out “Jesus is Lord!” with the grace of the Holy Spirit, so that everyone who crosses our paths can hear it loud and clear, in a way they can understand it.

Having gathered today in this place on this great Feast, we now pray for not only an outpouring of that Holy Spirit, but also for the openness to receive that Spirit and the grace to let that Spirit work in us for the salvation of the world. We, the Church, need that Holy Spirit to help us to promote a culture of life in a world of death; to live the Gospel in a world of selfishness; to seek inclusion and to celebrate diversity in a world of racism and hate; to effect conversion and reconciliation in a world steeped in sin. Brothers and sisters in Christ, if people in this world are to know that Jesus is Lord, it’s got to happen through each one of us. One life and one heart at a time can be moved to conversion by our witness and our prayer. Let us pray, then, that the Holy Spirit would do all that in us.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. Amen. Alleluia!

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Today’s readings

We gather here today on the eve of the Ascension. The tension is palpable; the disciples have so many more questions to ask, and they have no idea how short a time they have left to ask them. They are certainly not prepared to have the one they lost briefly to death ascend from their sight. They have been reunited with their friend and have gathered around him with a purpose; not wanting to ever be parted from him again.

And Jesus has been preparing them in the Gospel readings this week for what must come. If God’s purpose is to be advanced on this earth, then Jesus has to return to the Father. They will mourn once again for the loss of their friend. But if he does not leave them, he would not be able to send the Holy Spirit, the new Advocate to come and lead them to all truth. If the Spirit does not descend, the Church would not be born. If the Church were not born, the Gospel would be but an obscure footnote in the history of the world.

And so Jesus, their friend, prepares them for his parting. When he is gone from them, they will be able to ask the Father for whatever they need in Jesus’ name, and it will be given them. Their friendship with them will bear fruit in blessing.

The same is true of us. We disciples, we friends of Jesus, can count on his blessing, the rich gift of the Holy Spirit, the great witness of the Church. Our lives are enriched by our faith and our discipleship. What we do here on earth, what we suffer in our lives, what we celebrate — all this will bear fruit for the glory of God.