Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, fulfilling the promises Jesus made to his disciples before he ascended into heaven to the Father. We, ourselves, were filled with the Holy Spirit at our baptism along with the gifts the Holy Spirit bestowed upon us: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. This empowers us to carry out the mission of Christ in the world.
The way in which we each witness to the workings of the Spirit within us differs, for as Paul writes, “There are different gifts but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.” Little did I know when I picked this day for celebrating my 50th anniversary of priesthood that it was Pentecost. How appropriate. For though we all are blessed with different gifts and led to different forms of service, all are in the service of the same God. Like the Christian community of Paul’s time, our communities may see divisiveness and disagreement. Let us realize that what we have in common far exceeds our differences and the roles of ministry in the church, for we each have within us the Holy Spirit, who blesses us with the gifts that we each express in our own way.
According to the passage from John’s Gospel, Jesus gave two gifts to his disciples when he first appeared to them after he was raised from the dead. He gave them the Holy Spirit and he gave them peace. Locked in the upper room they were frightened that they may be crucified, guilty that they abandoned Jesus and anxious about their future. So the first gift he gave them was peace. Peace of mind. Peace in their hearts. Then he gave them one more thing; a mission. He gave them a mission to bring peace and mercy to the world. Yes, the peace and forgiveness he bestowed upon them, as well as the Holy Spirit, were not meant to stay shut up with them in a locked room. And so we, as modern-day disciples of the Lord are called as well to bring peace and mercy and the Holy Spirit to the world. I rejoice and give thanks that part of my 50 years of priesthood was lived out with you here at St. James.
Love, Peace, Joy,
Of course we can’t forget that we as a nation celebrate Memorial Day. And so we recall in a special way all the women and men who gave their lives in loving service for justice and peace in our nation and world. Not only those in the armed forces, but also all our loved ones who have died in service of God’s kingdom.