Homily Pentecost 19th May 2024

Homily Pentecost 19th May 2024

In the first reading, the picture that St. Luke draws of the apostles gathered together after the resurrection is of a fairly confused and frightened group of men. They knew they had a mission to preach the Gospel, to somehow reproduce for others the experience they themselves had had of Christ. But there was still that huge gap between knowing and doing. They had insight, they had understanding, they even had faith. But they were still missing that mysterious quality that makes the difference between one who simply knows God’s word and one who lives it.

No one can say really very clearly what it is. We can only say when it is there. It is an elusive mixture of confidence, both in God and in oneself, and zeal, what the beatitudes call a hunger for truth and righteousness. And perhaps more than anything else, it is simply courage. Courage does not mean not being afraid, only a fool is that. Rather, courage means not trusting one’s fears not letting them take control of one’s life. It means acting in spite of fears and doubts and insecurities.

An unlikely group, certainly, and left to themselves they would not have been very effective. But the great truth of this feast is that they were not left to themselves.

God made up for human failing. God gave them the confidence, the zeal the courage they needed. God gave them the Holy Spirit. God’s own life force, and they became indeed not merely hearers of the Word but doers.

Just as the Holy Spirit prodded the Apostles out of their fear, so too does the Spirit prod us. Our Challenge is really the same: The challenge to realise that all of human life, every facet of it, has been infused with the powerful presence of the spirit.

And because of that, the challenge to realise that all of human life, the good that we do, the evil we endure, is a divine mystery. The fact is that because of Pentecost, human life is as far beyond our understanding as is divine life. That means that there is only one way to realistically affirm our lives, and that is with faith, as believers.

As believers, we know that there may very well be no immediately obvious connection between what we are asked by the Spirit to do and the good to be derived from doing it. As believers, it just doesn’t matter very much whether or not that connection is obvious. We know that it is there.

So, following the second reading today, we prayer the very ancient sequence, “Come Holy Spirit”: For two thousand years that has been the Church’s constant prayer. The Spirit’s answer is simple. “I am here. I have always been here.” So the Spirit has. The life of each of us is a constant Pentecost. In everything we do, we are the Spirit’s dwelling place.

Fr Andrew