Sunday Homily: The Pentecost Revolution
We are at the end of the Easter Season. This is the last day, but it also celebrates the first day of the next period of the God’s work of salvation. The work of the Holy Spirit is the period that we are in right now as we look forward to the final stage, our redemption and presence in the Kingdom of God.
If we look at today’s readings casually, we see the account of the Apostles receiving the tongues of fire and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We see Peter speaking and preaching, the Apostles speaking languages unknown to them and we see the 3000 converted that day. We see what also is the birthday of the Church. If you listened carefully to my words, however, you will notice I said if you listen to the readings casually.
But if we look closely at them, we may see something beyond the account. We may have a deeper understanding of the meaning of Pentecost for the people then and for you now.
Let us look at the elements. The Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles and empowers them to speak boldly in different languages and to go out into the whole world to preach the gospel. They are preaching to people of whom they were afraid at one time. They are preaching in ways that startle the people and change their hearts radically. People, whom Peter describes as being enemies of Christ, change their hearts and become converted to the new way forming in the Jewish community of Jerusalem. They become converted to that enemy of the people executed just over fifty days earlier. Their lives are changed.
Step back a moment and imagine that same scene reported on network news. How would the correspondent report the incident? What spin would he or she put on it. Whom would the reporter interview as eyewitnesses and then as commentators to indicate what this means for the people of Jerusalem and indeed possibly the whole empire?
This incident changed the world radically. Not overnight, per se, but clearly our whole lives would be different, our culture, our civilization would be radically different if this incident did not happen. Therefore, we can say, it was a revolutionary moment, and revolutionary moments introduce revolutions. That moment is the beginning of a revolution that still exists and of which you are part.
Revolutions bring radical change. We often think of revolutions as overthrowing governments, but that is not the case of this one. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles called for anything but obedience to civil authority. So, what is it that this revolution overthrows? We see it in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, where Paul talks about how we are in battle against principalities and powers the evil forces that seek the destruction of all things human. What does that look like? It is not rocket science, it is any force that seeks to destroy a human, dehumanize him or her. Cut him or her from the rest of the world. It is the force that sells drugs to the addict. . .That breaks up families, that discourages life, that shows no mercy or forgiveness and demands vengeance, that enslaves youth in gangs and so much more. That promotes evil as good and good as evil. We call that force sin, the effects of which we can see all around us.
It is that force we seek to overthrow, as St. Paul teaches. That is our revolution. That is why the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles and began the Church, that is why the Church exists and it is that for that mission that God called you. You were missioned at your Baptism into that revolution through the Holy Spirit. If you do not believe me go back and read the end of the Baptismal Rite. You were missioned further at your Confirmation were you were fully initiated into that revolution called the Church.
Currently, you are engaged in one of the most powerful acts of this revolution. You are here in Church worshipping God: The Father, Son and Holy Spirit and pledging your lives to Christ. Many of you will soon come to receive the Body and Blood of Christ, never take that act for granted! When you walk out of this Church you will have made a sign to the whole world: “we stand with Christ and His revolution against those forces that seek to destroy the souls of those around us.: We embrace His revolution promoting the Love God has for every person around us and we seek His will in our lives. So that we can teach it to you.”
Each and everyone of you were called into that revolution at your baptism. You embraced that revolution at your Confirmation. Never forget that the Holy Spirit came upon you at those times, so that he can work through you. Be His channels of revolutionary grace.
It is the same Holy Spirit that came upon the apostles for this first time millennia ago, this day we call Pentecost.