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Homily for Pentecost Sunday

Most Reverend Martin D. Holley


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Happy Birthday! Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, we celebrate the birthdate of the Catholic Church, because we regard this day as the beginning of the Church' mission by the Apostles.

Pentecost is the Feast of the Holy Spirit, but it is also about who we are as a faith community, as a Church.

This Feast of Pentecost is the culmination of the Easter Season. It is no coincidence that Jesus unexpectedly visited the disciples on that Easter evening and breathed upon them.

Pentecost proclaims that through Christ's death and glorification, and the sending of the Holy Spirit, all fear has been overcome.

The disciples had huddled together in fear. The wind had been taken out of their sails because of Jesus' death, and ascension into heaven.

Now, Jesus appears and breathes upon them and tells them to breathe of the Spirit, and come alive.

When Jesus blew the breath of life into them, they truly came alive for the first time!

We have inherited the blessings and mission of the first Christians.

It is the Holy Spirit that has given us marvelous gifts. Each of us has something special that we can give to our faith community.

These tremendous gifts of the Holy Spirit come not only in our very persons, but in the multiple personal talents each of us possesses, in the ministries we engage in, and in the works that we do.

Today, I am reminded of St. Philip Neri, who used to play in the Catacombs in Rome by day or outside them by night.

On Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 1544, as St. Philip Neri prayed at the Catacomb of St. Sebastian, he had a mystical, or shall we say, a charismatic-experience that was unique from the lives of the saints.

On that occasion, St. Philip had a vision not of a dove or of tongues of fire resting on his head, but of a fiery globe that penetrated his heart.

St. Philip, who had once prayed that he be sent as a missionary to India, was told by God: "Rome is India."

Nevertheless, perhaps that fiery globe representing the Holy Spirit and His global work of salvation acted as confirmation of St. Philip' unique vocation to bring about a "New Pentecost," especially since he lived during the critical time of the Counter-Reformation.

During St. Philp Neri's lifetime people could hear the palpitations of his heart through his black cassock that he could only button up halfway.

It was only after a post-mortem autopsy, was it revealed that St. Philip had lived most of his adult life with his heart protruding through his rib cage that had been forced apart by the penetration of the Holy Spirit.

St. Philip Neri lived and breathed the life of the Holy Spirit, "the Lord and Giver of life." So too did his spiritual son, the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman.

Today, we are reminded that the Holy Spirit manifests Himself as fire. His flame descended upon the assembled disciples. It was enkindled in them and gave them the new zeal of God.

In this way, what Jesus had previously said was accomplished when he said, "I have come to cast fire upon the earth, and how I long that it already be burning."

The Apostles, together with the faithful from different communities, carried this divine flame to the far corners of the earth.

In this way, they opened the path for all humanity; a luminous path, and they worked with God, who wants to renew the face of the earth with His fire.

The fire of God, the fire of the Holy Spirit, is that bush that burned without being consumed in the Old Testament.

It is a flame that burns, but does not destroy, but purifies, animates, and brings alive the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that we all received in the Sacrament of Baptism, which were dormant until we received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Today, this Pentecost Sunday, is a great day to rekindle in us the Spirit of New Life and enthusiasm, for the fire of God's love and mercy which pours into our hearts.

The Holy Spirit continues to help us overcome all fear and differences without taking away our unique gifts that give us a sense of purpose.

As our second reading from first Corinthians 12:3ff, says that, "There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone."

"To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit."

So now, each of us, are called to use the spiritual gifts that God has given us to help build up His Kingdom here on earth, because it is the Holy Spirit who will sanctify our works and make them holy and pleasing to God.

And finally, our Gospel from St. John reminds us that, we are called to forgive in Christ' name, to heal, to bring the Lord's peace into the world.

We are called to bring forgiveness to all broken human relationships in our lives and the lives of others; whether in our homes, workplace, schools, community, nation or throughout the whole world.

Today, let us pray, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, Mary, who along with the 12 disciples waited in the Upper Room for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that we might open our minds, hearts and souls today to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives, so that we might help to renew the face of the earth.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, enkindle in them the fire of your love.

Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray: O' God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, instructs the hearts of the faithful; grant that by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise, and ever rejoice in your consolation, through Christ Our Lord.


Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Memphis, Tennessee

May 20, 2018 - 10:00 AM Mass

Jan 18, 2019

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