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Pentecost Sunday 2009

 
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Fr.Paul Weinberger
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Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 199
Location: Greenville, Texas

PostPosted: Sun Jun 07, 2009 9:35 pm    Post subject: Pentecost Sunday 2009 Reply with quote

Pentecost Sunday 2009

Homily by:
Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas
May 31, 2009

If you take away their breath they perish and return to dust. When You send forth Your Spirit they are created and You renew the face of the earth.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen

Today is fifty days after Easter. Last Sunday, as depicted on the front of the bulletin, was the Ascension of the Lord forty days after Easter. Ten days later is Pentecost, which is the end of the Easter Season and is the great Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

This icon on the cover of the bulletin is excellent because just as you see them arranged while Christ is ascending into Heaven, perhaps this was the arrangement in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit descended on Our Lady and the Apostles gathered together there in that room. The previous forty days Jesus taught them and they begged Him to stay. He told them that if He did not go He could not send them the Holy Spirit, and that it was better for them that He go. When Jesus ascended into Heaven He didn’t disappear. They didn’t check his room in the morning and find that He was gone; they saw Him ascend into Heaven. After He ascended the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles and Our Lady just as Jesus promised.

Many Catholics acknowledge the Feast of Pentecost but many Catholics don’t know exactly how it fits into the Church. Yesterday the readings were different for the Vigil. From St. Paul’s letters to the Romans he started out in the second reading saying,

We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now. Not only that but we ourselves who have the first fruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

St. Paul makes a reference to labor pains. Today is the birth of the Church, the birthday of the Church. To understand the significance of this we need to go back to the Old Testament to the very beginning when God created Adam, taking him from the depths of the earth, just as we heard in that Psalm, in the last verse.

If You take away their breath they perish and return to dust

God took dust and formed it into the image of a man and then breathed His life into Adam. From Adam’s side, after He cast a deep sleep over him, God took a rib from Adam and fashioned a woman and breathed life into Eve. Adam and Eve received life from God, and today, the Feast of Pentecost, God breathes life into His Church. Just as a body cannot move if it doesn’t have a soul, which allows the body to move, so in the Mystical Body of Christ, the Holy Spirit gives the Church the ability to go forward.

”Oh Fr. Paul, everyone understands this and all Christians believe this!”

No, no they don’t! Many Catholic Christians fail to realize this.

I was listening to Catholic Radio on 910 AM last week when someone called in with a question about the Mormon religion. Many Mormons I know have a great dedication to large families and they are good hard working people. The question involved the baptism of Mormons. I think it was in 1997 this was mentioned when the Vatican handed down the decision regarding Mormon baptism and that their baptism was not valid. If someone is Baptized in the Baptist Church, that is a valid Baptism and we recognize it along with so many other Christian faiths. But Mormon baptism is not valid for various reasons. That is a problem.

The Mormons also believe that Joseph Smith started the church. In a sense, the Church that Jesus started 2000 years ago…I guess it ran out of gas and had to be restarted by Joseph Smith in the 1800s. You can see right there that the birth of the Church that we believe in happened on Pentecost 2000 years ago. Everyone does not share this belief. This is something we have to treasure and also meditate on.

God the Father and God the Son send the Holy Spirit down upon the Church on Pentecost. We hear about how tongues of fire came to rest on the Apostles and Our Lady. We stop and think and say that we know what that is. This is a tongue of fire right here and it is up high so the boys can’t get near them, right? No, it is the Paschal Candle and that is why it is tall. [Laughter} But it is a tongue of fire.

During Lent I was listening to Catholic Radio and Dr. Tim Gray who teaches at he seminary in Denver. He was doing a beautiful series on Exodus; maybe you saw it on EWTN as well. He made specific mention of tongues of fire and gives a great explanation. He goes back to the Old Testament to explain tongues of fire in the New Testament, when Moses was tending the sheep near the base of the mountain and he looked over and saw a bush of fire. He noticed that the bush was not consumed and it was truly burning. So Moses went over to “kick the tires” and check it out and that is when he heard the Voice of God tell him to stop and take off his shoes because the ground on which he was treading was Holy Ground. Moses fell flat on his face in front of the burning bush; Moses had heard that no one can see God and live and so this was a way of honoring God in the most profound way that he could.

Later when the Israelites would build the temple in Jerusalem, the holiest part, the Holy of Holies, along with the Ark of the Covenant and the Bread of the Presence there was fashioned a very large gold lamp stand with seven lamps, seven tongues of fire. What was all that about? Well, it was about a lot of money. Eventually when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem after the Ascension of Christ, one of the things they did was to haul that back to Rome. If you have ever seen that big coliseum in the middle of Rome, they melted down the lamp stand and the money that they received from much gold was used to build that piece of architecture. Look over there; look at the Altar and you see the six candles. When the Bishop comes the Crucifix is moved and the seventh candle is placed there. Seven tongues of fire, just like that lamp stand in the temple in Jerusalem. That lamp stand in the temple in Jerusalem was a representation of the Burning Bush that Moses saw when he got his start at the base of that mountain tending the flocks. The priests tended the seven lamps 24/7, 365 days a year. They never went out.

Think about an apple tree or a cherry tree; you go out to pick cherries from the tree. Think of the Burning Bush and being able to, with asbestos gloves, take a tongue of fire here and a tongue of fire there…that is what descended on Our Lady and the Apostles on Pentecost. Have you ever seen a statue of St. Jude, the Apostle? He always has a large medallion of the Head of Jesus on his chest, a walking staff and this thing on his head. What is that, a cowlick? No, it is a tongue of fire, a share in the Life of God.

We first receive the Holy Spirit when we are Baptized, so this business of baptism and valid baptism is not fly over country… very important and essential. As I said last week, I could not have received any of the other Sacraments until I was first Baptized. So the valid Baptism is the first time the Holy Spirit enters the soul.

”Well Father, everyone understands that!”

Here is another case….no they don’t! About two or three hundred years ago it became a very popular theory, that everything was created by God out of nothing, kind of like someone who can make a grandfather clock, made everything like a clock and took it and wound it up, put it on a table and walked away from it and didn’t want anything more to do with it. I guess when the clock wound down and fell apart he came back and cleaned up the mess.

Believe it or not there are people today that still hold much of what I just said as truth, but look how at odds that is with the Catholic Christian understanding of Pentecost. God gives us a Tongue of Fire, a share in His Divine Life at Pentecost to bring to life this Church so that these extremely ordinary people could go forth and transform the entire world. That is exactly what happened; most of the Apostles could not read or write and they may have been very good fishermen, but to think that a humble band of people like this could go forth and 2000 years later there are over a billion populating the Church. It is because of the Holy Spirit, because of Pentecost, because God is the One Who shares a portion of His Spirit with us.

The Feast of Pentecost is the birthday of the Church because God still wants ordinary people like all of us here today to do exactly the same thing. He wants to see the world transformed by us. When you feel like you’ve run out of gas or you don’t want to do it and think you have already done your part, these are areas where you are starting to get off the rails and jumping the tracks. No, no, the Holy Spirit continually renews us and the flame never goes out just like it was to never go out in the Holy of Holies. The bush that Moses saw was on fire but never consumed by that fire. That Life of God is shared with us.

Next Sunday is Trinity Sunday. God the Father is God, God the Son is God, and God the Holy Spirit is God. The love that God the Father has for God the Son is intense and the love that God the Son, Jesus Christ, has for God the Father is so intense that their mutual love is God the Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit is sent down on the Church today, two thousand years later. We cannot claim that the Church ran out of gas, but rather that the Church continues only by God holding it together and guiding Her is the Holy Spirit, Who enlivens.

If you take away their breath they perish and return to dust. When You send forth Your spirit they are created and You renew the face of the earth.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit

Amen
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