He Testifies to the Truth

(Homily for Pentecost Sunday)

This Sunday we see the beginning of our Church. It happened after Jesus ascended to “the right hand of the Father,” and sent the early Christians that greatest of all gifts: the Holy Spirit. St. Paul tells us that only by the Holy Spirit can one say, “Jesus is Lord.” Jesus himself says that the Spirit, who proceeds from the Father, will “testify” to him. What does that mean?

St. Thomas of Villanova gives a comparison to help us understand the role of the Holy Spirit. He asks us to imagine the son of a king showing up unannounced among his people. He comes to them in ordinary dress and, after some conversation, tells them that he is the king’s son. The people say to him: “Although you look something like the king, your dress denies it.” The son answers: “Wait and soon my brother will come in royal power and he will tell you who I am.” So it is. The Holy Spirit enables us to recognize Jesus for who he is. In the Creed, we say that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son,” and with them is “worshiped and glorified.” He possesses the same divine substance as the Father and the Son. Therefore, he can testify to the truth about Jesus; he gives us the power to say, “Jesus is Lord.”

In our culture it is not easy to say, “Jesus is Lord.” We live among people who don’t quite know what to make of Jesus. People do feel there is something special about him, but they are not sure what it is. And, unfortunately, some folks seem ready to believe almost anything about Jesus - except what he said. A few years ago a high school English teacher wrote a novel based on the premise that Jesus was an ordinary guy who had a girl friend and that together they had a daughter from whom descended a line of French royalty. The idea held together about as well as an alien-abduction story. Nevertheless, a high percentage of people in our country bought it. It appealed to people because we live in a culture obsessed by the intimate lives of famous people.

When you pick up the New Testament, however, you get a different picture of Jesus. He does have a bride, but not the one people imagine. Do you remember when the Pharisees asked Jesus why his disciples did not fast? He replied that wedding guests do not fast when the bridegroom is with them. Jesus has a bride, but she is not an individual woman. She is the Church, the New Israel. That is quite a claim. Millions of men have had one bride - and some have had two or more. But Jesus claimed as his bride the entire people. No wonder he made the authorities nervous. Moreover, he stated that he is the Lord of the Sabbath, the one who forgives men’s sins, who overthrows Satan, who existed before Abraham. If Jesus was an ordinary human like you or me, he was either a raving lunatic or an outrageous liar. For my part, I do not believe Jesus was mad or dishonest. I am left with only one alternative. He is Lord. Just as Yahweh or Jehovah is Lord of all creation, so Jesus is Lord.

Now, I admit it is difficult for me - even after almost thirty-five years as a priest - to keep before my mind that this man Jesus is Lord of the universe and that I was created to be his subject. The problem is that other forces keep striving for supremacy in my life. I don’t need to mention them. You know them as well as I: financial security, sensual comfort, respectability - or as the Catechism enumerates them: lust, anger, greed, gluttony, envy, laziness and pride. When those forces gain the upper hand, I wind up feeling empty and depressed. Jesus’ rule, on the other hand, brings tranquility, a sense of well-being and power. You and I need to claim Jesus as our Lord - not just with our lips, but with our lives. Today’s feast of Pentecost reminds us that only by the Holy Spirit can you or I say, “Jesus is Lord.” Like the early Christians, we can do nothing better than open our hearts to that greatest of all gifts.


Spanish Version

From the Archives:

Pentecost 2011: It Was the Holy Ghost
2010: The Power of the Holy Spirit
2009: The Soul's Most Welcome Guest
2008: Double Gift
2007: With You Always
2006: He Testifies to the Truth
2005: The Greatest Unused Power
2004: A Man Open to the Holy Spirit
2003: To Drink of One Spirit
2002: Healing of Memories
2001: Hateful Comparisons & Precious Gifts
2000: The Spirit & The Flesh
1999: Each in His Native Language
1998: Empty Rites?

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

For those who enjoy listening to educational CD's, I would like to make a recommendation: History of Science: Antiquity to 1700 by John Hopkins University professor Lawrence M. Principe. Here is a partial description:

With Dr. Principe's guidance, you will see that science is often characterized by ideas that have an enormously long shelf life, linking widely separated eras. For example, the ancient Greek theory of atomism, though rejected in its own time, survived through the ages to play a central role in prominent theories of the 17th century. Similarly, a variety of themes reverberates through the history of science. Among those central to this course are:
  • the emphases that civilizations have placed on either theoretical science or practical technology
  • the effect of culture on the questions that science asks
  • the relationship between science and religion.

You may be surprised by what you learn about that last point. Today, we tend to see science and religion as separate and even antagonistic. But this has not always been the case. For much of the history of science, theology was actually seen not only as compatible with science, but as the principal motivator of scientific inquiry.

Bulletin (Confirmation by Bishop Tyson, School Baptisms, Fr. Peter Mactutis)


Baptism of Simon Christopher Corbin, son of Holy Family School teacher, May 26, 2006

Baptism of Holy Family fourth grader Shelby Wright and mom Latricia and mom Christi Corbin, May 24, 2006

with Fourth Grade Teacher, Mrs. Anca Wilson, Ron Belgau, Todd Aylard and Fr. Ramón Velasco

Fourth Grade class, with principal Mr. Glen Lutz

Confirmation, May 28, 2006; Bishop Joseph Tyson

Preaching Schedule

Death of young priest

Pope Benedict at Birkenau

The Pope's speech at Auschwitz:

Deep down, those vicious criminals, by wiping out this people, wanted to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind, principles that are eternally valid. If this people, by its very existence, was a witness to the God who spoke to humanity and took us to himself, then that God finally had to die and power had to belong to man alone -- to those men, who thought that by force they had made themselves masters of the world. By destroying Israel, they ultimately wanted to tear up the taproot of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention: faith in the rule of man, the rule of the powerful.

my bulletin column

SMV Bulletin

Parish Picture Album

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Footnote to comments on World Civilization Course: There is a lot one could say about this high school textbook. It purports to be comprehensive, but it leaves a lot out. For example, its ample index does not have an entry for Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II. Even from a secular point of view they are two people who had a deep and ongoing impact on our world. By way of contrast, the textbook did have a section on Betty Friedan! Subsequently I came across this quote from University of Wisconsin Professor Stanley Payne about the current state of history studies:

Major themes are replaced by comparatively minor considerations, which emphasize small groups, deviants and cultural oddities. Most studies are required to fit somewhere within the new sacred trinity of race, class and gender - the new "cultural Marxism." Research that does not conform to these criteria is increasingly eliminated from the universities, where hiring practices in the humanities and social science have become blatantly discriminatory. (from "Controversies over History in Contemporary Spain")

Reasons Young People Leave Their Faith - Presentation for Monroe Christian Pastors. (For pdf format click here)