As we celebrate this wonderful feast of Pentecost, we look forward to the end of the restrictions that we’ve had here at mass. The dispensation to miss mass is going to be lifted. Once again, it will be back to normal in terms of the obligation to attend Sunday mass, and many of the restrictions that we’ve had in terms of masks and social distancing and everything like that will be removed. I’ll tell you a little bit more about those concrete details at the end of mass. I’m excited. I cannot wait to see your faces because for a year now, since I came here, I’ve not been able to see your faces. We’re going to have to start at square one of you telling me your name, me looking at your face and remembering your name.
As we celebrate this great feast of the Pentecost, the disciples were locked away. They were afraid. They had locked themselves away. Jesus came into their midst, stood in front of them, showed them his wounds, in which they recognized him, and then he breathed upon them and said, “Peace be with you.” I think even that breath we’ve been afraid of, right? God is going to breathe his Holy Spirit upon us at this mass today. It is so important that we gather together because it was when the disciples were gathered together that the Holy Spirit came upon them. In two weeks, as we celebrate the great feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we will have the whole church body again gathered together as an assembly.
This last year has been difficult for all of us. Some people have experienced the coronavirus or known someone that has been sick or even known someone who has died. Some of us may have just been afraid of getting it. Some of us have been afraid of crazy things, like washing our hands nonstop or going into a store and restaurants. All of these things have been changes for us. Any time there’s a change it creates anxiety and difficulty for us. Any change causes stress. We have anything from big changes to really little changes that have probably caused us stress over this last year.
The wonderful thing is that the Holy Spirit has never stopped working. I know for some people, if I were to ask them, if you look at the last year has your faith grown or has it diminished. I know a lot of people who would say that their faith has grown, that this last year for them has been a time for them to really be focused on God. They spent more time in prayer. They’ve really come to know and appreciate the spiritual life. I also know people whose faith has waned. Because of not having that practice of coming to Sunday mass, their faith has really decreased and has waned.
But this Sunday is a time when our faith is set on fire. The prayer at the beginning of the mass prays for and asks that the same spirit that was sent upon the apostles will also be sent on each and every one of us. The tongues of fire that rested upon the apostles in the first reading will be the same fire that will rest on you today. Some of us will walk out of here ablaze and some of us may not because part of the process is that we have to participate in that flame. We have to desire that flame.
After the homily, I’m going to give you just a few moments for you to really ask and invite the Holy Spirit to come into you and set our hearts on fire that we may truly be a people of the Pentecost. The wonderful thing is that after the Pentecost the disciples were locked in the room, and they received the Holy Spirit. They’re set on fire and then they go out. They go out to proclaim the faith, proclaim the good news of God, and they’re able to do it in any language. They speak and foreign tongues are able to understand them. Just imagine what a barrier they were able to break with the gift of the Holy Spirit. It’s hard enough to speak to somebody about Jesus in English. Have you ever had someone that you tried to help understand the faith and help them understand the importance of the sacraments? It’s difficult to do, right? It’s really difficult to hand on our faith and to convey that to people who just for some reason don’t understand or maybe don’t even want to understand. You’re commissioned with that today. You’ve got two weeks to go out to everyone you can and tell them to come back because the first week of June is when all the mandates will be lifted and the dispensation will be lifted. Bring them back here to the Eucharist. If we can bring people back here and set people on fire, this world will become ablaze.
I just ask you to ask yourself that question. In the last year, has your faith grown or has it decreased? Are you on fire with the Holy Spirit or is there a wet blanket that has been put over it? This Pentecost Sunday is a time to renew it, a time to ask the Holy Spirit to set us on fire, to fill us with the love of Christ, and to give us that same spirit of the Holy Spirit. The tongues of flame that rested on them can rest on each and every one of us today so that we can go forth into the world and set it on fire.
One of the things I’m most excited about is uniting at large gatherings again. So not only here at church are we going to be able to gather together, but I get to go to concerts again and people can come together. When people come here together in a unique way, Jesus promises us that when two or three are gathered in his name, he is present among us. As we gather here in the assembly, in a gathered assembly, we receive the Eucharist, we’re set on fire, and we become super spreaders of the faith. You’ll go out from here, and spread the faith, and set the world on fire.
So as we celebrate this great feast of the Pentecost, as I sit down for a moment, I want you to truly ask God from the bottom of your heart to send the Holy Spirit upon you, to receive the Holy Spirit, and to set you on fire with the love of God.