There is a best-selling book that came out a little while ago called “Little Fires Everywhere.” Some of you may have seen that Hulu series that they did on that – a one-part series. It is the story of a family that grows up in Shaker Heights. One of the images that the entire series reflects is the image of fire. All throughout the series is the image of fire. One of the quotes that I want to begin with is about when one of the main characters is talking about fire. She says, “Like after a fire I saw, I saw one years ago when we were in Nebraska. It seems like the end of the world. The earth is all scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning, the soil is richer and new things can grow. People are like that, too, you know. They start over. They find a way.”
On this feast of Pentecost I feel in some ways like we have kind of been wiped out. For the last two months, we have not had the sacraments. I have, but you have not been able to receive the sacraments. This probably has taken a toll on everybody. In a sense, it’s like this fire has burned us down to the ground and now we begin anew. On this wonderful feast of Pentecost, you’re gathered with us here today, and we begin anew. On this day, we pray that the Holy Spirit will come upon us. We pray that the Holy Spirit fall afresh upon us. We pray that we receive the Holy Spirit, and we begin to become Christ in the world today.
I’m sure you’ve heard that there’s been rioting. There’s been scorching, and there’s been burning all throughout our country. We are in such need to have Christ’s presence in the world. Each and every one of you already received the Holy Spirit in Baptism. When you were baptized, you received the Holy Spirit and all the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Most of you were confirmed, and on Confirmation you were sealed with the gifts and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We all have them, but oftentimes, they need to be activated. They need to be kindled and caught on fire.
That’s what I want us to pray for today as we celebrate this Feast of Pentecost – that the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit be unleashed in us. That they be activated and set on fire once more and burn anew.
Now, some of you have probably heard of the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, but if I were to ask you and quiz you to name them, it might be hard for you to do it. What I want to do just briefly is to go through the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. I want you, first of all, to think of one gift that God has given to you. Think of one fruit that God has given to you that you already see in your life that’s evidence of the Holy Spirit working in you. I also want you to think of one gift or fruit that you want to pray for today that you may be lacking in but want to pray that God bring about in you.
Here are the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Quickly and briefly, wisdom is being very wise in the ways of God. It’s different from knowledge. It’s really knowing what God’s will is and doing that. Understanding is being able to understand God’s message. It’s also being able to understand other people, to relate to other people and understand where they are coming from. Counsel is to be able to know and discern God’s will and to help other people, to counsel other people, and to give them good guidance and good advice. Fortitude is to have a strength in the Holy Spirit to endure no matter what happens in your life. Knowledge is to know the things of God, to be really good at studying, learning and knowledge. Piety is a deep devotion, an intense love for God. Finally, fear of the Lord is being in awe of the grandeur and goodness of God. It’s kind of like looking at a fire and seeing the awe of that.
Now the Fruits of the Holy Spirit: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity.
Hopefully, you had one gift you could think of and one gift or fruit that you desire to have in your life. If you’re not sure, or if you don’t remember what these are, or you want to pray with them more, just go to the Catechism and read about the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit.
Today on this Feast of Pentecost, we pray that God set us on fire. We pray that God gives us the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit. We pray that God unleashes them within us. After the homily, I’m going to sit just for a moment, and I invite you in the silence and depth of your heart to ask for the Holy Spirit. If you’re not sure even how to say it, just say, “Come Holy Spirit, come Holy Spirit, come Holy Spirit.” Ask and you shall receive. God wants to set our church on fire once more this Pentecost.