I would like to propose three thoughts for us to ponder on this Feast of Pentecost 2011...
THE FIRST IS THIS...
A person can get along without a lot of money.
There are a many people who don't have a lot of money these days.
We can get along with minimal food. We certainly don't need all that we eat.
We can get along without the latest fashions and toys and gadgets and we can have a very good quality of life.
A poor boy in China didn't understand that and sold one of his kidneys for an IPAD.
However, it is very very hard to get along without other people.
God made us to be in relationship, relationship with others and relationship with God.
That's why is solitary confinement so difficult to bear for a person in prison.
Its so difficult because it denies our very fundamental need for relationship our fundamental need to be with others.
If a child it is not held, if it is not nurtured he/she will never thrive, sometimes they will even die.
This fundamental fear of being alone manifests itself is so many ways during our lives:
Bullying is so hard to bear for a child because it implies rejection. No one will play with me. I will be alone...
One of the most important things for a young person growing up is being accepted. They try so hard to be a part of the group. Educators spend so much time helping them understand and deal with and figure out peer pressure... or pressure to belong.
A little later in life people fear that they will not find someone to spend the rest of their life with. They fear that they will be alone. This fear is so strong and sometimes so reinforced by family members that in desperation it is not uncommon for people to marry the wrong person or the first person to come along. Disaster disaster disaster...
After the loss of a spouse of many year, people long for companionship and relationship. When their spouse of many many years dies sometimes its as if a part of themselves has died. It is so very painful.
All of this is true because we are made to be with others and we are made to love.
It is indeed so painful to be alone....
Today is the feast of Pentecost.
Today God promises to be with us always.
Jesus said “I will not leave you orphans.
I will send you the advocate, the comforter the Spirit of Truth.”
I becomes clear from today's readings that Holy Spirit was not given to the apostles individually for their own benefit or purpose.
The gifts of the Spirit were given to us in the context of the community the Church.
The apostles and Mary were gathered together in prayer when the Holy Spirit came.
That's how God wanted the gifts of the Spirit to be received and only when they were gathered together as Church did they receive the Holy Spirit.
We all know that the Church is not perfect.
If you don't know that I don't know where you have been living these past 10 year or last 20 centuries.
You think things are bad now you should have been around during the time of St. Francis or St. Theresa of Avila. What a human mess.
Jesus knew that we would make mistakes.
Jesus knew that our community our church would be broken and holy at the same time.
Jesus knew that there would be scandals and problems in every age, yet he still chose to ask the Apostles the first leaders of the Church to be gathered together in prayer to receive the Holy Spirit.
And it is the Church which is tasked with recognizing and channeling the gifts of the Holy Spirit where they are needed the most.
Many say that Pentecost was indeed the birthday of the Church and it is through the community of the Church that the gifts are shared.
The second reading today reminds us that each member of the community receives a different gift and each of these gifts are holy and special.
Some can preach, some can discern God's will,
some are great prophets,
some can be lost in prayer,
some have incredible energy and strength and stamina and are constantly able to serve their brothers and sisters,
some are smart, really smart etc etc etc
Yes we have a multitude of gifts to share and all of our gifts are to be placed at the service of God’s Kingdom and each other.
And so on this the third most holy day of the year
after Easter and Christmas,
on this day when we celebrate and recognize the both the gifts and the presence of the Holy Spirit,
let us find comfort in the fact that God is really present in our lives.
Men and women of faith can never be alone..
When Jesus said I am with you always until the end of time
He meant what He said.
He is with us always in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Let us remember that the Holy Spirit did not reveal himself to individual people but rather in the presence of the community or Church gathered in prayer.
Authentic use of God's gifts will always be at the service of the community of faith and they will always build up the Church.
Finally Let us recognize the gifts that each of us has been given.
We all have gifts every person in this Church has gifts to share.
Let us and rejoice in the diversity of gifts that can be shared in the church.
We should never be jealous of the gifts a person has received.
We should never be prideful of the gifts that we ourselves have received.
We must be grateful for the gifts God has given us.
Every gift we have must simply be put at the service of others.
Come Holy Spirit fill the heart of the faithful and in-kindle in us the fire of your love send for your spirit and we shall be created and you shall renew the face of the earth.