My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Again, welcome to our Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for this celebration for the solemnity of Pentecost.
When we look around this beautiful Cathedral today, we see the “fruits” of that first Pentecost. Your presence here in our Cathedral and in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is a special manifestation of that grace of the Holy Spirit that is still active in the Church. We see the glorious Church that was born from the power of the Holy Spirit — one family of God, gathered from every nation, every people, and every language under heaven. All the new movements and ecclesial who are here present in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The Catholic Church is the promise that Jesus delivered on that first Pentecost — a people filled with his Spirit, filled with the knowledge of God and his salvation. A people called to be his witnesses, to proclaim him to the whole world!
So today is the “birthday” of our Catholic Church!
And in our first reading that we heard today, from the Acts of the Apostles, we “re-live” the moment of the first Pentecost in that Upper Room in Jerusalem.
As we know, the apostles and our Blessed Mother were there, were gathered in the Upper Room after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven, waiting for the Holy Spirit to come. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus promised to send to them.
It was 50 days after his Resurrection. And, as we heard, Jesus did send his Spirit. The Spirit came — like a strong driving wind. And he filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues of fire which parted and came to rest on each one of them and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
That’s why the first Christians talked about being temples of the Holy Spirit, with the Spirit of Christ dwelling in their hearts through faith.2 And that’s true! That’s real! We are children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit.
We need to be aware of this, my dear brothers and sisters. Because the Holy Spirit is the “soul” of our identity and mission as Christians.
So today, as we remember that first Pentecost, let us renew our devotion to the Holy Spirit.
So, when we reflect on what happened on that first Pentecost, one of the first things that we notice is that when the Holy Spirit comes — the apostles immediately begin to proclaim Jesus Christ and his works of love. As we heard today:
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak … as the Holy Spirit enable them to proclaim …
the mighty acts of God.
The Holy Spirit is sent to finish God’s work in the world, to complete the mission of Jesus Christ.
And Jesus said he came to cast fire on the earth.3 Now what he was talking about — was the fire of the Holy Spirit.
That fire that he started on Pentecost is still burning. It’s still burning in his Church. It’s still burning in our hearts, in the hearts of all the baptized.
We need to ask the Spirit to make us better apostles, better witnesses. Better Christians.
The Church’s mission is our mission. And that mission is to bring the truth of the Gospel still to the people of our time.
Jesus says in the Gospel passage that we heard today: As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Jesus is sending each one of us to preach the Gospel. To go all over the world and preach the Gospel, with our witness and with our words.
And it is a message of love and peace. As Jesus said to the apostles in today’s passage of the Gospel: Peace be with you. The peace of God, the peace of Jesus must be in our hearts and must be in our communities.
And, as you know, Pope Francis, today, invited the Presidents of Israel and Palestine to join him at the Vatican to pray for peace in the Holy Land. So especially pray for our Holy Father today, accompany him with our prayers. Pray for peace.
So let’s ask for that grace — the grace of peace in our hearts, and the grace of the fire of the Holy Spirit to be with us. Pentecost is our purpose, that’s what gives meaning to our lives. So as we renew our commitment to God and to the Church and listen to the Holy Spirit, let us renew our enthusiasm for the new evangelization.
So let us give thanks to God today, on this birthday of his family, the Church. And let us ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen his gifts within us, to bring a new Pentecost in our lives.
1. Readings (Pentecost Sunday, Year A): Acts 2:1-11; Ps. 104: 1, 24, 29-31, 34l 1 Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23.
2. 1 Cor. 3:16.
3. Luke 12:39.