PENTECOST SUNDAY (A, B & C)

First Reading (Acts 2: 1-11)

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. 

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”

Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 104: 1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34)

Refrain: Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

1) Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord, my God, you are great indeed!
How manifold are your works, O Lord! the earth is full of your creatures.

2) May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord be glad in his works!
Pleasing to him be my theme; I will be glad in the Lord.

3) If you take away their breath, they perish and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12: 3-7, 12-13)

Brothers and sisters: No one can say, “Jesus is Lord, ” except by the Holy Spirit. 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. As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Optional Second Reading (Galatians 5: 16-25)

Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 
In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.

Sequence

Come, Holy Spirit, come!And from your celestial homeShed a ray of light divine!

Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine!

You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul's most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;

In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.

O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!

Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:

Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.

On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sev'nfold gift descend;

Give them virtue's sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen. Alleluia.

Gospel (John 20: 19-23)

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “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. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

OR:

Gospel (John 14:15-16, 23b-26)

Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always. Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Those who do not love me do not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everythingand remind you of all that I told you.”

(Copyright 1970, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Copyright 1970, 1997, 1998 Contraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

The English translation of some Psalm responses, some Alleluia and Gospel verses and the Lenten Gospel Acclamations, some Summaries, and the Titles and Conclusion of the Readings, from the Lectionary for Mass copyright 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc., Washington D.C. All rights reserved.

The poetic English translation of the sequences of the Roman Missal are taken from the Roman Missal approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, copyright 1964 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission of ICEL.)

Resources

- Catechism: #'s 1830-1831 (the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit). Copyright 1994 by the United States Catholic Conference, Washington, DC. [As recommended in A Homily Sourcebook (The Universal Catechism), copyright 1993 by N. Abeyasingha, the Pastoral Press, Washington, DC.]

- Days of the Lord, Volume 3, pp. 251-274 & 287-292. Copyright 1991 by the Order of Saint Benedict. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN.

- You Might Be A Redneck If... (Acts 2: 1-21). From Dynamic Preaching, copyright 1998 by Seven Worlds Corporation, 310 Simmons Road, Knoxville, TN, 37922.

- Authors With the Pentecostal Fire, from Good News. Copyright 1998 by Rev. Joseph T. Nolan. Liturgical Publications, Inc., 2875 South James Drive, New Berlin, WI. 53151.

-The Day of Pentecost, The Coming of the Spirit, The Work of the Spirit & The Breath of God, from The Book of Acts. Copyright 1975 by William Barclay. Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland.

- The Commission of Christ, from The Gospel of John. Copyright 1975 by William Barclay. Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland.

-The Confession of the Spirit, God's Differing Gifts & The Body of Christ from The Letters to the Corinthians. Copyright 1975 by William Barclay. Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland.

- The Surprises of Pentecost. From More Telling Stories, Compelling Stories, pp. 156-160. Copyright 1993 by William J. Bausch, Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT.

- Happy Birthday & A Feast to Feel. From Like Fresh Bread, pp. 109-116. Copyright 1993 by Robert P. Waznak, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ.

- The Cultural World of Jesus, pp. 88-90. Copyright 1997 by John J. Pilch, the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN.

-Pentecost (C) by Roland J. Faley. Copyright 1994 by the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. From Footprints on the Mountain, pp. 370-377, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ.

-Pentecost (C), copyright 1995 by Liam Swords. From Sunday Homilies, pp. 63-65, Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT 06355.

-Pentecost (C)(Psalm104). From Sing a New Song, by Irene Nowell, p. 202-204. Copyright 1993 by the Order of St. Benedict. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN.

-Pentecost (C) by Reginald H. Fuller. Copyright 1984 by the Order of St. Benedict. From Preaching the Lectionary, pp. 441-442, the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN.

-Pentecost (C), by Herbert F. Lindemann & Thomas Droege. Copyright 1989 by Pueblo Publishing Company, New York, New York and 1991 by the Order of St. Benedict, Collegeville, MN. From Homilies for the Christian People, pp. 473-477, the Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN.

-Pentecost (C), copyright 1991 by Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B. From The Gospel of the Lord, pp. 110-111. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN.

-Pentecost (C), copyright 1991 by Desmond Knowles. From Homilies and Prayers of the Faithful, pp. 308-309. Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT.

- Pentecost (C), copyright 1996 by Tom Clancy. From Living the Word, p.177. The Columba Press, Dublin, Ireland. Distributed in the US by Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT.

Homily

The Big Picture

I think Chippie's reaction to those events was about the same as the reaction of the disciples in the weeks that followed our Lord's crucifixion: they were probably stunned. He had appeared to them several times and had now ascended into heaven. But what next? Where do they go from here?

Well, based on Luke's account in the book of Acts, we can be sure of one thing that happened that first Pentecost day: the Spirit bestowed his gift of fortitude on the apostles and changed a group of men who were huddled together in that upper room into fearless evangelizers of the gospel who converted thousands of people on that one day alone.

But, as you know, fortitude is only one of the seven gifts of the Spirit. In preparing this homily, I was amazed to learn that these gifts were first spoken of by Isaiah in describing the qualities of the Messiah who was to come. He says this:

Although only six gifts are listed here, the Septuagint and Latin Vulgate versions of the bible read the first occurrence of "fear of the Lord" in this verse as "piety", thus yielding the seven gifts as we know them.
Just as the Spirit rested upon Christ himself, so too has he sent his Spirit upon all of us.
As Paul states in the second reading: "There are different gifts but the same Spirit; there are different ministries but the same Lord; there are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in every one." Thus it is that the Spirit works through all of us, each in his own way.

The seven gifts can be separated into four intellectual gifts (wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge) and three "active" gifts (fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord). With respect to the active gifts, the gift of courage is the ability to spread the faith in the most adverse of conditions. The gift of piety leads some to dedicate their lives to God in a special way, especially through the religious life. Fear of the Lord enables some to seek to avoid sin in all circumstances.

With respect to the intellectual gifts, the gift of counsel enables some to see and choose correctly what will bring about their own salvation and that of others. The gift of knowledge enables others to know universal and timeless truths pertaining to the natural world and the order of things. Understanding has been granted to some to see the things of life in relation to God and for achieving deeper insight into the truths of faith. And to some has been given the gift of wisdom (or sophia in Greek) which assists them in seeing and evaluating aspects of everyday living in relation to God and God's kingdom, according to the ultimate principles of faith and aided by the judgment of love.

I read the following story while I was preparing this homily and thought that it related well to this discussion of the gifts of the Spirit.

To some have been given the gift of knowledge, others understanding and still others wisdom. We all pretty much see around us the same things that the author of this story saw: the sun, the sky, the clouds, the birds, the flowers, our families. Knowledge enables us to realize that all of these, as well as the gift of life itself, are gifts from God. Through faith, we then can come to understand the deeper meaning of these gifts.

But most of all, I believe this story exemplifies the gift of wisdom, which, as we noted before, is the gift of evaluating aspects of everyday living in relation to God and aided by the judgment of love. Although we all see the same things, do we really "see" them? Do we know the true source of those things we see? Do we understand the true meaning behind those things, namely, the great love that God has for us? And most of all, do we have the wisdom to be grateful for the gifts that we have been given and use them to the best of our ability out of a love for God? Or do we get bogged down in the limits of our circumstances or wish that things could be better? Although the author regretted the handicaps which afflicted her son, she chose to see the best in his human nature as he struggled to overcome those obstacles.

Do we see minutiae, or do we see the big picture? That is the challenge we each face every day of our lives. Hopefully, you will have the wisdom to choose rightly.

References

1. Just Another Day by Charlotte "Charlie" Volnek. Reprinted with permission from Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul, pp. 112-113. Copyright 2000 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL.

(Copyright 2017 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at deaconsil@comcast.net.)

Alternate opening

As you all know, today is the birthday of the Church. And, as we heard in the first reading, it all began with the coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. As we will discuss in a few minutes, the Holy Spirit comes upon each of us in different ways. I heard this story which might be an example of how that could happen:

Well, okay, perhaps he doesn't come upon us like that. But we can be sure of one thing that happened that first Pentecost day: he bestowed his gift of fortitude on the apostles and changed a group of men who were huddled together in that upper room out of fear of the Jews into fearless evangelizers of the gospel who converted thousands of people on that one day alone.

Homily #2

The Gift of Fortitude

In today's gospel passage, our Lord tells his disciples: "As the Father has sent me, so I send you". With these words, the Eleven disciples became "apostles", meaning "those who are sent". Elsewhere, he tells them that they will accomplish even greater things than he did (John 14:12). How is this possible? How could the disciples accomplish more than Christ himself did? If we think about it, Christ's life only touched a relative handful of people in Palestine. But through the work of the Spirit, acting through those who placed themselves at his service, word of Christ's saving act, of his death and resurrection, has spread throughout the world.

Once he had ascended into heaven, Christ would have to rely on his followers to spread the word of his coming. A daunting task, to say the least, but he assured them that they would not be alone. He would send the Spirit to tell them what to say and to strengthen them in their times of trial. This is significant, because ultimately all of the apostles would become martyrs for their faith, as would countless more in the centuries that have followed.

And what was it that enabled all of these men and women to endure unspeakable hardship? As you know, there are seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. The gift which is particularly relevant here is the gift of fortitude or courage. As Paul tells Timothy in his second letter:

"Though we use the words 'fortitude' and 'courage' interchangeably, they actually have slightly different meanings. Fortitude comes from the Latin 'fortis' -- 'strong.' It means the moral strength or patient endurance to bear with afflictions, privations, or temptations. It is the passive strength to resist an attack, as defending a fort under siege. It is the strength needed to endure a long and painful illness, or persecution, and even martyrdom. Fortitude may be needed simply to remain faithful to one's own moral principles or to fulfill one's responsibilities and vocational commitments in life.

"Courage, on the other hand, comes from the Latin 'cor' which means 'the heart'. Courage is a quality of mind and heart that enables us to encounter difficulties and dangers with firmness or without fear. Courage implies a sense of bravery. Courage is a more active strength, moving a person to undertake difficult or dangerous tasks. Unlike fortitude which is more on the "defense," resisting assault, courage goes more on the "offense," correcting injustice or attacking other evils. In the language of the sports world, fortitude is the virtue of a strong defense, and courage is the virtue of a strong offense!

"As a result, we can distinguish two kinds of actions that the Gift of Fortitude helps us to accomplish. The first is "doing". This is courage. Without hesitation or fear it moves us to undertake arduous tasks, such as accomplishing tireless activity, overcoming dangers and weariness and carrying out great undertakings. The second kind of action is "enduring". This is fortitude. It gives us the strength to hold firm in difficulties of all sorts, not to surrender or give up in the face of hardship or opposition." (1)

I believe the following story might be a modern day example of what fortitude and courage are all about.

I think that it certainly can be said that Pastor Chen faced death joyfully and fearlessly. He was courageous in risking his life for his faith and endured his trial with fortitude and strength. He was truly a modern day apostle, sent by Christ to give witness to his faith. His courage touched many of the inmates in his prison.

Our own lives are full of situations when fortitude is required. We encounter times in our lives when our faith is tested, such as when a loved one dies or we are facing a serious illness. At times like these, the gift of fortitude will enable us to confront our temptations and doubt with patient endurance, with a willingness to go on, with the courage to not give up and to not give in. In our own way, we can then be Christ's modern day apostles, those whom he has sent into the world to give witness to our faith by what we say and by what we do. Just as those first apostles did. Just as Pastor Chen did. And may the force be with you, the force of the Holy Spirit, that is!

References

1. From The Gift of God: The Holy Spirit, by Andrew Apostoli, CFR, pp. 120-121. Copyright 1994 by the Society of St. Paul. Alba House, New York. (This resource, as well as many others, is available at a discount through the Homiletic Resource Center at or by calling toll free 1-877-432-6745.)

2. Project Pearl, by Jeff Taylor, from Artist's Alliance Follow-up Program, script one. Compass Direct/Open Doors, Santa Ana, CA. Reprinted in Unsolved Miracles, compiled by John Van Diest, pp. 223-226. Copyright 1997 by Multnomah Publishers, Sisters, OR.

3. From The Gift of God: The Holy Spirit, ibid., p. 119.

(Copyright 2014 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to reproduce in writing, please contact the human intermediary.)

Homily #3

In Fear and Trembling

I don't know if our pastor has ever had mornings like that, but I know that I can relate very much to this story. When I first began my web page, I knew that I would have to prepare my homilies at least a week in advance so that visitors from Monday to Saturday would have something to see. But as I have begun to spend more and more time adding other resources to my page, I had found less and less time for writing. Finally one week, I only finished it the Friday before I was to use it. I know for many preachers even that is early, but for me that was unacceptable. And more scary was the reason for it. I didn't put off doing it because I was busy (which I was) but also because I was doing anything else but preparing my homily.

Now that my wife has retired from her nursing career to help us with our business and we have our desks in the same room (a scary situation, I'll tell you!), she used to constantly ask me "Did you finish your homily yet?", much like the mother in our story trying to get her son to church. I'd always have some excuse or other. Here I was, afraid to tackle my number 1 job! And, unlike the parishioners in our story, you all have been very supportive.

So what was the problem? I realized that I was afraid that I wouldn't have anything to say about that week's lectionary texts. And therein lay the problem. After all, it is not "I" who have anything to say about the texts. It is only when I allow the Spirit to work through me and when I change my fear into the prayer "Lord, tell me what you want to tell your people" does any inspiration come. And that is what "inspiration" means from its Latin roots, a "breathing upon", in this case, by the Spirit, the source of inspiration. So, after some reflection, meditation and reading, and after I have let the Spirit use me, I find that I not only have something to say, but something to say which I believe with all my heart. The bottom line was that I was afraid that I wouldn't measure up, that I would fall down on the job, just like the pastor in our story. But the point was that it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the Spirit. Preaching is a daunting task, one that can only be done with the help of the Spirit. If we rely on ourselves, it will never get done.

It was the same with the disciples. In today's first reading from Acts, they were huddled in the upper room for fear of the Jews, just like the pastor in our story. They were afraid of what the leaders of the Jews would do to the followers of Jesus, just like our pastor was afraid of what his parishioners would think of him. And don't forget that our Lord has already ascended into heaven but had promised to send the Spirit. So when the Spirit arrives, he transforms these fishermen into dauntless missionaries for Christ.

So what about us? Are we just like the disciples were, afraid to witness to the presence of Christ in our lives? Afraid to show others that we care? Maybe we're afraid of our neighbors or our coworkers, afraid of what demands they might make of us? Maybe like the woman in this story, we're afraid of what getting to know someone might demand of us.

The pastor in our opening story was afraid of what his parishioners would think of him. I was afraid of what preparing homilies would demand of me. The woman in our story was afraid of getting too close to a child on the beach. What are you afraid of? It is a difficult question to ask yourself and you might not like the answer you get. But perhaps all we need to do is to pray a bit more: "Come, Holy Spirit, renew the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love."

References

1. From The Surprises of Pentecost, copyright 1993 by William J. Bausch. From More Telling Stories, Compelling Stories, pp. 156-160. Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT. Used with permission.

2. A Sandpiper To Bring You Joy, by Mary Sherman Hilbert. Copyright 1979 by the Reader's Digest Association, Inc. from the June 1980 issue. Included in A Third Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, pp. 8-11. Copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. Used with permission.

(Copyright 2011 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friend noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at deaconsil@comcast.net.)

Homily #4

The Church, the People of God/Service

Today is the birthday of the church. It is a birthday for everyone who calls themselves Christians. And what exactly is the church? It is what Paul says in the second reading: it is the body of Christ of which we are all members. The church is not a building, but a body with many parts. It is all of us contributing to its welfare and well-being. It is no more and no less than that. The church began with the infusion of the Spirit on twelve men at Pentecost and the message of Christ has spread throughout the world through the efforts of the saints and martyrs who have followed them. It has also spread due to the quiet example of all who have put the commands of our Lord into practice in their lives. Our mission is to continue the work which they have begun and, by our word and example, bring others into unity with us, not by ranting and raving, but by that same quiet example which speaks louder than words.

The Church is thus comprised of people from all races and nations who have accepted Christ into their hearts and live their lives according to his commandments, especially the command to love one another as God has loved us. The Church is the people of God, "a race made up of Jews and Gentiles who would be one, not according to the flesh, but in the Spirit. And this race would be the new People of God" (Lumen Gentium, 9).

The people of God are marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish them from all other religious, ethnic, political or cultural groups found in history. First of all, they are a People of God. The Israelites were the first chosen people of God, but through Christ, the invitation to become one of the people of God has been extended to people of every race and nation, one people united in the very fact of our common humanity. One even in our diversity, our different cultures and societies, features and colors, which serve to exemplify even more the greatness of God in that very diversity. This is why prejudice has no place in the people of God, the Church, because no one is greater than another; we are all equal in God's eyes.

We become members of this people not by a physical birth, but by being "born anew," a birth "of water and the Spirit," that is, by faith in Christ, and by baptism.

The People of God enjoy the status of dignity and freedom of the children of God, in whose hearts the Spirit dwells, as in a temple. By Christ's death on the cross, we have been freed from slavery to sin and our dignity as masters of our own desires restored.

The People of God live according to the law of the new commandment, which is to love one another as Christ has loved us. This is the new law of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit of Love which binds all members together. If one member suffers, all of the members suffer with them; and if one member is honored, all of the members rejoice together.

The mission of the People of God is to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This people is a most sure seed of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race.

And finally, the destiny of the People of God is to inherit the Kingdom of God which God the Son has promised to all of his children.

We all have gifts and talents to share. We all have gifts and talents which the church can use in its ministries. Oh, I know, many of you might say that you have no special gifts or talents. But you have all been given the greatest gift of all, and it is a very special gift to each and every one of you. Can anyone guess what it might be? (See if anyone can guess.) It is the gift of your life. God has blessed you with this time in this world in the hope not only that you will ultimately come to share in his eternal life in heaven, but also that you will share the gifts which he has bestowed on you, share your time, share your life with others who comprise the body of Christ.

So the next time that you think your contributions, your acts of charity, your works for justice, your gifts of love, and your talents are nothing, or that they are small in comparison to those of others, remember that when one is added to another, and then to another and so forth, great things can happen from nothing. In the same way, what seems to be ordinary can be transformed into something extraordinary with just a little extra nothing. (1)

There is so much need in our own church for parishioners to participate in the various works that the church, the people of God, do here in our very own community. Whether it be taking the Eucharist to shut-ins, visiting nursing homes or the sick, reaching out to people whose faith has lapsed or who have become alienated from church because of what someone said or did to them. If everyone here today signed up for one ministry or another, we would still not have enough volunteers to fill the needs. Please pray about and consider the possibility of returning a small part of what God has given to you in service to the other needy members of his body. Since Christ is no longer in this world in his body, we have to be the body of Christ, hands to do his work, feet to run his errands, a voice to speak for him. For:

Reference:

1. The Field Mouse and the Owl, from A Fresh Packet of Sower's Seeds, Third Planting, #70, page 66. Copyright 1994 by Brian Cavanaugh, T.O.R., Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ 07430. Used with permission. 

(Copyright 2008 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friend noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at deaconsil@comcast.net.)

Homily #5

Ask Not...

In our first reading from Acts today, we heard Luke the Evangelist's recounting of the events of that first Pentecost day some 2000 years ago. In it, we have a small group of the disciples gathered together for support. They were also probably behind locked doors for fear of the Jews, just as they were when our Lord appeared to them in the Upper Room, as recounted in John's gospel which we also just heard. Then the Spirit descends on this group of primarily frightened fishermen and turns them into fearsome evanglizers who would spread the word about the Son of God throughout the known world at that time. For example, Mark died in Egypt; Luke preached the gospel in Italy, among other places; Philip was buried in Greece; Peter, as we know, was crucified upside down and buried on the current site of Vatican City; and Thomas, that renowned doubter of doubters, would himself go off to spread Christianity as far away as India.

I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to refer to this group of people, namely the disciples, as a community doing what communities should do. Let me explain.

Webster's defines a "community" as "a unified body of individuals...with common interests living in a particular area". Gee, a "body of individuals". Where have we heard something about a body before??? Oh yeah, in the second reading where we heard "the body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body". So the disciples were definitely a body of individuals coming together for the common interest of worship. But there was more that they did. On that first Pentecost day, the disciples left their community to evangelize to the crowds that were gathered outside. In other words, with the prodding of the Holy Spirit, they used their new-found gifts to increase the Body of Christ.

But it is not only the disciples who were a community, is it? We also are a community gathered together on a regular basis for the purpose of worshiping God. So, if we are a community, then we need to ask ourselves: as members of the Body of Christ, how are we using our gifts to further Christ's work on earth? Well, what gifts do we have to offer?

I would suggest that the first gift we can offer to the community is a portion of the financial gifts that we have been given. And how much should we give? That is up to each of you to determine, but consider that Ken Jennings, who won more than 2.5 million dollars on the television game show "Jeopardy", tithed 10 percent of his winnings to the Mormon church. I'm sure that Fr. ... would be more than thrilled if you donated 1 percent of your earnings.

Which brings us to the second question: why do we support our community? Well, first of all, we support our community because it cannot survive without our support. But there is a more important reason why we need to support our communities which I hinted at above, namely, to give back to God a portion of the blessings that he has bestowed on us. I know that to some, working at a job one does not particularly like or for people who seem that they could care less about us, would hardly appear to be a blessing. However, consider those people for whom working at a job, any job, that would help them support their families, would be a blessing.

So a job is a blessing from God, even if it is not the most ideal one we could choose. And we certainly can understand this especially in these difficult economic times.

But there is more support that we give to our communities than just financial. We also support them by sharing our gifts and talents. There are ministries to shut-ins, patients at the local hospital, the numerous nursing homes and retirement villages in the area in addition to the usual committees and liturgical ministries. In other words, I'm sure if you went up to the pastor and offered your services, he would have no problem finding something for you to do.

I know, I know, you are probably saying to yourselves that you couldn't possibly have any gifts or talents to offer. But that is like the servant in the parable who had the one talent, while other servants were given five and ten talents, and he buried his. God wants us to use our talents for the greater good. And even if it were true that we had no talents, that is not so. Because we have been given the greatest gift of all, namely, time. Just think about that. The greatest gift we have to give one another is our time. Consider the following story. The author writes:

Whenever we attend a wake or a wedding reception or a party of any kind, what's really important is that we are sharing our time with others. It is the same in our community: the most important thing is not what we share but that we share. And the rewards we receive from sharing can sometimes be greater than the gift we offer.

Before I close, I did want to make another selfish plug for more members of our choir and music ministry. If you can carry a tune, we'd be more than glad to have you. And of course, our music ministry is one way that visitors size up our congregation. So sharing your gifts also means participating in sung prayer during our worship. It lets visitors know that you are comfortable sharing your voice with those around you. And that is one of the signs of a welcoming community.

So in summary, it is only with your support, both financially and time-wise, that this community can continue to be a welcoming community. Through your financial support, the parish will be able to maintain its facilities and pay the employees a just wage. And through your generous giving of your time and talent, all of the parish ministries and committees will be properly staffed, including our own music ministry. In closing, I would just like to paraphrase the immortal words of John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your community can do for you; ask what you can do for your community".

Reference:

1. A Gift of Time by Tracy Tiffany. Comments to her at tracytif@cybersol.com. Used with her permission.

(Copyright 2004 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friend noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at deaconsil@comcast.net.)

Homily #6

A Mother's Influence

In looking at today's gospel passage, there are three things which struck me. First of all, our Lord tells his disciples that he will send them the Paraclete. But who is this "Paraclete"? The Greek word from which our word "Paraclete" comes is "parakletos", which is really untranslatable. It has been rendered Comforter, or Helper. But the word in Greek has far more meaning than either of these translations. The Greeks used the word in a wide variety of ways. A "parakletos" might be a person called in to give witness in a law court in someone's favor; he might be an advocate called in to plead the cause of someone under indictment for something which would result in a serious penalty if they were convicted; he might be an expert called in to give advice in some difficult situation; he might be a person called in when, for example, a company of soldiers were depressed and dispirited to put new courage into their minds and hearts. Always a "parakletos" is someone called in to help in time of trouble or need.

We often talk of being able to cope with things. All too many years ago, I remember attending a play entitled "Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope!" But that is precisely the work of the Holy Spirit: he takes away our inadequacies and enables us to cope with life. The Holy Spirit substitutes victorious living for defeated living. So what Jesus is saying is: "I am setting before you a hard task, and I am sending you out on a very difficult journey. But I am going to send you someone, the "parakletos," who will guide you as to what to do and enable you to do it." (1)

Secondly, our Lord assures his disciples that the Paraclete will remain with them. The most important gift that we can ever give anyone is the gift of our presence, the time we spend with others. I think this is well exemplified by the following story.

Just like the man in this story, in sending his Spirit, Christ is sharing the most precious gift which he can, the gift of his presence in our lives, just as he does in the Eucharist. When we encounter difficult times on our journey of life, the Spirit will be there to comfort and strengthen us if we just seek him. And where do we look for him? As Jesus told his disciples: "I will send the Spirit to be within you". So the Spirit can be found in our hearts, the source and resting place of all love. But if we let the Spirit into our lives, then we will soon discover that he is not just content with staying there. He will gradually influence our actions until they are a reflection of his presence in our lives and our lives will never be the same again.

To sum up: the Spirit which Christ sends into the world is the Comforter, the Helper, the one who helps us to cope in our times of need and the one who strengthens us when we are down. He will always be with us and he will always be within us. And he will influence all that we say and do.

When we speak of these qualities of the Spirit, it seems more than appropriate that we should do so on this special day of the year when we remember our mothers. First of all, just like the Spirit, they more than likely will have been our comforter and our helper. When we fell in the playground and scraped our knees, we would run to our mothers and she would give us comfort and wipe away our tears. Although this is not universally true for all mothers (after all, just like the rest of us, many mothers are far from perfect), more often than not, they have helped us in times of need and have strengthened us when we were down.

Secondly, our mothers will always be with us. Even after they have passed from this life, we will hold their memories in our hearts, just as the writer of this story does.

And lastly, our mothers are always within us. If I were to ask each of you individually who has exercised the most influence in your life, I'm sure that the vast majority of you would respond that it was your mothers. Good or bad, and sometimes even if we don't wish to acknowledge it, they have left an imprint on our lives like no one else has. One author spoke of his mother and to his mother this way:

Notice that this writer said that his mother's spirit was indelibly imprinted on all that he has been, all that he is, and all that he will ever be. So it is with the Spirit. Just like a mother should be, and as we discussed before, the Spirit is the comforter, the helper, the one who helps us to cope in our times of need and the one who strengthens us when we are down. He will always be with us and he will always be within us. And he will influence all that we say and do.

In conclusion, our final home is meant to be with Christ. But until we arrive there, he has promised to send us his Spirit to be with us always. And if that isn't enough, he himself will always be with us in the Eucharist. And until that day comes when he can take us in his arms and wipe away every tear, he has sent us our mothers to do the same. And all mothers, even those whose own mothers were far from perfect, should cherish and nourish their families and strive to be all that a mother should be, namely, the first example of love in the lives of their children. And, just like any true lover, they must be willing to sacrifice for their families, and sometimes even sacrifice their own lives, just as the mother being led away to certain death in a concentration camp did. And just as our Lord did when he laid down his own life for us so that we might live with him forever in heaven.

References

1. From The Promised Helper in The Gospel of John, copyright 1975 by William Barclay. St. Andrew Press, Edinburgh, Scotland. Used with permission.

2. Roses for Mama, copyright 1977 by Gene Dobbins, Johnny Wilson, Wayne Sharp. Chappell & Co. Cited in THE TRIBUTE by Denis Rainey (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishes, 1994), p.106-107. Used with permission. (Quoted in The Mother Side of God from The Best of Dynamic Preaching, Seven Worlds Corporation, 310 Simmons Road, Knoxville, TN 37922.)

3. Most Kids Are Born Only Once, copyright 1997 by Joseph C. Rosenbaum. From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul, pp. 35-36. Copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Jennifer Read Hawthorne and Marci Shimoff. Health Communications Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. Used with the explicit permission of the author. (Comments may be sent to him at chrisjos@aol.com.)

4. A Tribute to Mothers, copyright 1997 by David Weatherford. From Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul, pp. v-vi. Copyright 1997 by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Jennifer Read Hawthorne and Marci Shimoff. Health Communications Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. Used with the explicit permission of the author.

(Copyright 2011 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for oral use in whole or in part in local communities. For permission to use in written form, please contact the human intermediary at deaconsil@comcast.net )

PENTECOST SUNDAY

May 20, 2018
Penitential Rite

Lord Jesus, you sent your Spirit on the disciples. Lord, have mercy.

Christ Jesus, you send us out into the world, renewed by your Spirit. Christ, have mercy.

Lord Jesus, you send the Spirit of healing and forgiveness into our lives. Lord, have mercy.

Penitential Rite #2

Lord Jesus, you sent us the Spirit of Truth to teach us wisdom. Lord, have mercy.

Christ Jesus, you sent us the Spirit of Love to teach us how to love one another. Christ, have mercy.

Lord Jesus, you sent us the Spirit of Life to bring us to everlasting life. Lord, have mercy.

PENTECOST SUNDAY
May 31, 2020
Prayers of the Faithful

Celebrant: The Lord has sent his Spirit upon us, just as he promised. Moved by that same Spirit, we confidently bring our needs to the Father.

Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, send us your Spirit".

That the Spirit may guide the actions of the leaders of the Church, we pray to the Lord.

That the Spirit may move the leaders of all nations to rule their people with loving care, we pray to the Lord.

That the sick, the elderly and those who are grieving the loss of loved one may feel the healing presence of the Spirit in their lives, we pray to the Lord.

That the Spirit may motivate us to use our gifts to further the work of the Body of Christ on earth, we pray to the Lord.

That the Spirit may move all of those who are alienated, bitter or angry to a loving forgiveness of one another, we pray to the Lord.

That all of those who have contracted the Coronavirus will be healed of their affliction, that all of those who have died will be welcomed into the loving arms of their Savior and that their families will be comforted in their grief by their faith, we pray to the Lord.

For all of the intentions we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.

Celebrant: Father of all life, hear the prayers we lift to you today. Recreate us in your Spirit so that we may be sources of peace and forgiveness in our homes, schools and workplaces. We ask this in the name of Christ, your Son. Amen.