My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
This is a day of joy for us. Pentecost Sunday and the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a beautiful solemnity in the liturgy of the Church and it is the conclusion of the Easter season.
And yesterday, here at our Cathedral, we had great gift of ordaining seven new priests for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
So we are truly being blessed here as the family of God in Los Angeles!
So I ask you to help me give thanks to God. And let us also continue to pray for our new priests — let’s ask the Holy Spirit to give us many more vocations, coming from our homes, our parishes, and our schools to the priesthood and consecrated life here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
As we heard today in our readings, the Church is born on Pentecost.
So today, as we kind of like to say — today we celebrate the “birthday” of the Church.
The Church is born in the words of Jesus, breathing his Spirit into his apostles and sending them out to preach peace and forgiveness.
The Church is born in the tongues of fire and the driving wind that send the apostles out into the streets to proclaim God’s mighty works.
But at the same time, we cannot forget that Pentecost is something personal. The words that we heard in the Gospel this morning are personal. Jesus is talking to the apostles, but he is also talking to us — to you and to me. So he says to us:
Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.
And when he had said this: “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
As we know, St. Paul says that we are temples the Holy Spirit.2 And it is true!
So this feast day, today, calls us to remember this beautiful truth — Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit. But the question we need to ask ourselves is: How well do we know the Holy Spirit who is dwelling within us?
How well do I know the Holy Spirit?
And I really think that this is a great need that we have in the Church, and a great need that we have in our own spiritual lives. We really need to get to know the Holy Spirit! As a friend, as a companion on our journey of faith.
Because the Holy Spirit as we know is God the Father’s gift to us. But why is he giving us this gift? The only reason for which God is giving us this gift is because he loves us and he wants to be united with us.
So the Holy Spirit is like our “life-line” — he is the bond of love that unites us to God. The Holy Spirit, as we know, is the Spirit of love. And love creates communion — it joins us to the One we love.
The Holy Spirit speaks words of truth in our hearts — words of love. The words of Jesus Christ. In the tradition of the Church, as we know, the Holy Spirit is knowns as a teacher, a counselor, a tutor who guides us and gives us advice.
The saints say that the Spirit sends us his “inspirations.” And they are like feelings about — like suggestions, like ways in which we can do things — it is inspirations about what we should do, how we should think, and how we should act.
When we think of our own spiritual lives — when we think of the needs of the Church — there is no doubt that we need the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. The help of the Holy Spirit to be able to make the right decisions and really try to strive for holiness.
It’s one of the things that I usually say to the young men and women that receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. That the Holy Spirit is the one who is going help them to make the right decisions in life.
But the challenge for all of us is really to listen to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. When we think about it, it’s really amazing that God loves us so much that he wants to be with us through the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in a special way.
So think about it. God is giving you — he’s giving me — the Holy Spirit. God is talking to you — he’s talking to me — through those inspirations of Holy Spirit. He’s trying to help us really grow as a human person, as a Christian, in our spiritual life.
And I would say, that really listening to the Holy Spirit is the key to be able to grow in our Christian life.
So that’s why we need to be more and more aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That’s why we need to be more attentive, more sensitive, to those inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
They’re not going to come like with the apostles — with fire and with wind — it’s going to come in a simple, ordinary way. Like an allergy
This is the time of allergies, isn’t it?
But we need to be very sensitive to everything that the Holy Spirit is trying to do with us. And then, of course, we can find ways in which we can especially stop and try to listen to the Holy Spirit.
I, personally, try to dedicate Sundays to meditate on the Holy Spirit. Or at least to pray a prayer to the Holy Spirit. That’s right, I try to be more attentive to what the Holy Spirit is telling me.
Maybe that beautiful prayer that we were singing in the Responsorial Psalm:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love”
Or even just saying, “Come, Holy Spirit.” That will help us to really pay more attention to those inspirations of the Holy Spirit.
So that’s the first kind of lesson for this beautiful solemnity. But then, at the same time, the other lesson is to remember that Jesus is sending us out today.
Just like the apostles went out on Pentecost day, Jesus is sending us to be instruments of his Spirit.
As we see in the Gospel today, Jesus gives his Spirit to the Church and he gives the Church the mission of spreading the gifts of the Holy Spirit — the gifts of God’s mercy and forgiveness.
In the first reading of today’s Mass, we see that at Pentecost, the apostles and the Virgin Mary were hiding behind locked doors. They were afraid of what would happen if the authorities came and knocked on the door.
When the Spirit came — suddenly they were given courage and confidence. No more fear! So they were out in the streets proclaiming Jesus and God’s mighty deeds.
My dear brothers and sisters, it is our duty to continue this mission. We need to proclaim God’s love, speaking from the love that is in our hearts. We cannot rest until God’s love is burning in every heart.
So on this beautiful solemnity of Pentecost, let us ask Jesus — to once more send his Holy Spirit into our hearts. Let us try to be more attentive to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. And let us try to renew our apostolic mission — our mission to help people discover the love of God through the action of the Holy Spirit.
And let us stay close to our Blessed Mother Mary. Just like Jesus did and the apostles did.
And let us pray that united to her, and with her intercession, we may set the world on fire with the love of God.
1. Readings (Pentecost Sunday, Year A): Acts 2:1-11; Ps. 104:1, 24, 29-31, 34; 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13l John 20:19-23.
2. 1 Cor. 3:16.