Project Description

Pentecost A

Acts 2:1-11 / 1 Cor 12:3B-7, 12-13 / John 20:19-23

 

It was mid-winter—

and St. Francis of Assisi found himself

in the presence of an almond tree.

 

St. Francis calls out to the almond tree,

“Speak to me about God!”

 

And there—

in mid-winter—

the almond tree breaks into

the most beautiful bloom. . . .

 

It comes alive.

 

Another Pentecost story.

 

Arsenius was successful man. . . .

in the eyes of the world.

 

He was a Roman—

born in 360 AD.

 

He was a well-educated—

He had senatorial rank—

He was tutor to the emperor’s sons.

 

But Arsenius wanted something more.-

 

He wanted to be united with God.

 

So he left the imperial palace

at the age of 34 and

made his way to the desert in Egypt

for a life of prayer.

 

And while in the desert—

Arsenius grew closer and closer to God. . . .

He lived with God.

 

One day another monk went to

see the great Arsenius for counsel.

 

And waiting outside his cell,

the monk looked in and

saw Arsenius at prayer. . . .

 

and he was engulfed in flames. . . .

filled with Holy Spirit.

 

St. John of the Cross uses a great metaphor

to help explain what had happened to Arsenius.

 

He says our soul is like a pane of glass. . . .

 

and God is like the Sun. . . .

and the rays of the sun are like the Holy Spirit.

 

And when someone grows in great closeness to God. . . .

the rays of the Sun—

the Holy Spirit—

completely penetrates the glass.

And becomes indistinguishable

from rays of light.

 

Full of the Holy Spirit—

Engulfed in flames—

Fully alive.

 

And the metaphor of the plant—

blooming and yielding beautiful fruit—

like that almond tree—

that’s a common metaphor too.

 

The great mystic St. Teresa of Avila

saw the soul as a garden.

 

And how is our soul as a garden watered?

 

It’s through prayer—

growing closer and closer to God.

 

And when our soul garden is fully watered—

it blooms and yields great fruit.

 

Almond tree speak to me about God. —

And it bloomed.

 

These are such great Christian metaphors—

great metaphors for Pentecost. . . .

filled with the Holy Spirit. . . .

 

Producing fruit—

Being light—

Being fully alive.

 

And want to hear more!!!

 

Because of who God is—

God doesn’t discriminate.

 

The sun shines on the good and the bad. . . .

 

The rain rains of the good and the bad. . . .

 

So our spiritual masters tell us

that if we aren’t fully alive in the Spirit. . . .

then the issue is with us.

 

We’ve built a damn to stop the

flow of water into our soul garden. . . .

 

or we’ve let the weeds grow so much

they choke the fruit bearing plants.

 

Or using the light metaphor—

 

We’ve closed the blinds—

Or we’ve let our window get so dirty—

The light can’t pass through.

 

Pride will do this. . . .

I’ll do it may way. . . .

 

Or some habitual sin. . . .

usually lack of charity.

 

Those are the usual grace stoppers.

 

 

 

 

 

But when cooperate with the Holy Spirit—

and produce the right fruits. . . .

When we let God’s light shine through us. . . .

 

Big thing will happen.

 

And Brothers and Sisters in Christ—

I am convinced—

that at no other time—

at least in my adult life—

is there such a need for allowing

the Holy Spirit work through us.

 

Because we are facing some big challenges.

 

First is the worldwide pandemic.

 

It’s brought us all to our knees

in one-way or another.

 

The sickness and the death—

the fear.

 

The economic toil—

the psychological toil.

 

There’s a lot of healing and comforting and

reaching out and helping that we’ve got to do.

 

And what about the overt racism

that we’ve just seen in Minneapolis—

 

and it’s not an isolated occurrence.

 

And what has been the response of some?

 

Violence and hatred met with. . . .

violence and hatred.

 

And then there’s all the division

lack of civility.

 

Just a lot of hatred—

hatred for those who are the least bit different than us.

 

We’ve forgotten how to disagree with someone—

Or make our voiced heard without

verbal or physical or psychological violence.

 

We know that the violence and

hatred is not of God. . . .

 

St Paul tells us what’s not—

not of God—

 

immorality and licentiousness . . .

hatreds and rivalries. . . .

jealousy and outbursts of the fury. . . .

acts of selfishness and dissensions. . . .

factions and occasions of envy. . . .

 

Not of God. . . .

 

And we know what is of God—

What is of the Holy Spirit.

 

St Paul tells us that too.

 

The fruits of the Spirit are. . .

 

love . . .joy. . . .

peace . . .patience. . . .

kindness. . . .generosity. . . .

faithfulness. . . .gentleness. . . .

self-control.

 

We just hear these words and know

they are of God.

 

I am convinced—

that at no other time—

at least in my adult life—

 

that we are in need of a new Pentecost. . . .

 

You know at the first Pentecost—

people of all different nations

and colors came together.

 

 

There was solidarity—

not division.

 

And the people present at Pentecost

filled with Holy Spirit. . . .

 

spoke new languages—

representing something powerful

was happening in them. . .

 

And even though they

spoke different languages—

they understood the teaching of the apostles. . . .

 

they were unified in the mission of Jesus—

 

and the Holy Spirit was in them

to lead them and strengthen them.

 

Brothers and Sister in Christ,

We need to prepare ourselves to

let the Holy Spirit work through us. . . .

 

for a new Pentecost.

 

new hearts unified in mission. . . .

 

rooted in principles of the Gospel. . . .

 

to be healers and comforters and helpers. . . .

 

to be the non-violent and respectful voices

for the equality of all of God’s children. . . .

 

to be instruments of peace and justice and love.

 

I want to end with an

powerful experience I had yesterday. . . .

 

We were sanitizing the church before Mass. . . .

 

and a young man in a military uniform walked in.

 

He looked so young.

 

He was a UK student—

one of our CCD teachers.

 

He said, “Father will you pray with me?”

 

You see, he’s in the National Guard

and he had been called up to go to Louisville

because of the protests.

 

Well, this young man is from Louisville.

 

And so many things were going on in his head.

 

He would be wearing riot gear. . . .

 

Yet, he was so against any form of racism or injustice

and agreed in principle with the protests.

 

But he wanted to keep the peace. . . .

 

What if some of his friends from

Louisville were on the other side of his riot gear. . . .

 

Such conflicting emotions. . . .

 

What a tough spot. . . .

 

We did pray. . . .

 

We prayed for a new Pentecost.

 

In mid-winter—

St. Francis asks the almond tree

to speak to him about God. . . .

 

and it blooms. .

 

The novice monk looked in and

saw Arsenius in prayer—

 

and he was engulfed in flames. . . .

fully alive. . .

filled with Holy Spirit.

 

Holy Spirit 05/30-31/ 2020