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Homily for Sunday, May 19, 2024

Pentecost Sunday |


[Father Paul]


I have come to believe that the Catholic Church is on the verge of a rebirth of the Holy Spirit that we haven’t seen since Pentecost. I can just feel it. I can feel it because the world is in trouble, and what the Church teaches about living a meaningful life is true. In that spirit, let me begin today with one of my favourite quotes. It’s from Teihard de Chardin:  


Someday, after mastering the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then for the second time in the history of the world, we will have discovered fire. 

What does this mean? What does our bishop mean when he says he wants to light this diocese on fire? It means to get involved.


Consider this. Getting involved was the best advice I ever got about starting high school. But I never did, at least not as much as I could have. I was too shy, insecure, and afraid of what others might think of me. I tried to get through every day without making a fool of myself. Girls? I was terrified. Don’t worry, I’m still terrified. I met a woman a few years ago who knew me in high school - I had no idea who she was, but she said, “My friends and I all had a massive crush on you. We used to follow you around.” Are you kidding me? It’s like, “Why didn’t you say something!!!” Maybe we were all like that at one point, and it’s called being a teenager.  I still feel like that sometimes. Well, guess what? This is not high school, and I’m not a teenager anymore; well, some of you are, and to those who are, I will say the same thing: GET INVOLVED. Make that call. join that group. engage in that conversation. Because if we don’t, we will simply die of boredom. 


Here’s one reason why. We talk so much about mental health. Do you want to know how to improve your mental health? Get involved. Do you want to become a better person? Get involved. Do you want society to be healthier? Get involved. Do you want to be holy? Get involved. Do you want to be a follower of Jesus? Get involved. Do you want to go to heaven? Get involved. And if you do, you will be a better person for it: 


“This willingness to contribute must take place in the context of a primary concern for others and the general welfare. Concern for personal benefit can only be secondary and must follow solely as a derivative of the primary concern. However, the self-esteem accruing to the individual will follow as surely as day follows night, the feeling of usefulness engenders the individual’s feeling of self-worth and value. “ (Yang, Julia. Psychology of Courage: An Adlerian Handbook for Healthy Social Living. Routledge, 2015, p. 20)

Last week, in the context of discipleship and how following Jesus might shake you to the core, I quoted from Kahlil Gibrain on love,


When love beckons to you, follow him, Though his ways are hard and steep. And when his wings enfold, you yield to him, Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/148579/on-love)

I used motherhood as an example, but certainly, it was the case with the disciples. Did they have any idea what they were getting into? Probably not. And yet, they had such courage. That is the courage I’m asking you to consider today on this feast of Pentecost. It is the courage of motherhood. 


But here’s the other side of that: 


But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.

Sometimes, maybe not here or now, I look out at a congregation and see that seasonless world. Maybe that’s what Pope Francis said when he said Sunday Mass is sometimes more like a funeral than an act of joy. But we’re not alone. Isn’t that what the apostles felt in that upper room? They were so afraid. I quote: “The doors were locked for the fear of the Jews.” Are the doors of your heart locked? Mine are sometimes, too; I get that. 


In our responses as a diocese to Synod 2023, the question came up: why didn’t people get involved? Fear was the absolute number one reason: fear of being judged, fear of not knowing enough, fear of embarrassment, fear of people talking about them behind their backs, fear of being ridiculed for what they wear or think or even how they behave, fear of reopening old wounds. 


Well, it’s good that the apostles didn’t stay in that room trapped by fear. Because then something happened. Those doors blew open, and they started proclaiming Jesus and him crucified. It became the fastest-growing religion that humanity has ever seen. How about that for a new definition of evangelization: Get involved. What the Holy Spirit gave them, what our church needs today almost as much as it needs love, is courage. 

He who recognizes the goal of the community will be a courageous fellow human being, a co-worker, without asking for any other recompenses than that which he bears within himself. But his work, his contribution to the community, is immortal, his spirit will never perish. (Yang 20)

Isn’t this what St. Alexander is all about? To create a community where people feel that sense of belonging, that spirit of contribution, that openness to love? If you get involved, no, it’s not easy: ask any priest or anyone involved; it will shake you to the core, as Kahlil Gibran once said. But we need your grace and your talents, and not only will we have a healthier community, not only will grow and be healthier as individuals. but I just can’t wait to see what God will do with this little parish of St. Alexander. In my first years as a priest, I have often said that we are about to see a rebirth of the Holy Spirit that the world has not seen since Pentecost. I can just feel it. 


I would like to suggest three ways to get more involved: 


  1. Believe in God, talk to God, hope in God, and believe that God has been revealed through Jesus Christ, who is still alive and walks with us daily. 

  2. Participate fully in the Mass, especially singing. Maybe singing is an act of courage for you. Well, have courage. This congregation is not singing enough. Go down to one of the Protestant churches and ask yourself why we can’t sing like that. Singing is worshipping God. God wants you to worship him; it is a form of prayer. 

  3. Get involved in ministry. Ask God to show you how you can get involved. We still have sign-up sheets, and we are working very hard to put structures where getting involved is easy. I know we’re not quite there yet, but we’re trying. We will also start reaching out to everyone who signed up for one of our ministries. I’d love it if we just continued to talk about it. 


Lord, send forth your spirit and renew the face of the earth.  


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