Life in Christ Week 8: Source of Power

(Homily for Pentecost Year A)

Message: Take advantage of the greatest untapped power. Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Today we celebrate Pentecost: Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.

Pentecost fits into our series on Life in Christ. The series began on Easter Sunday and will conclude in two weeks with the Feast of Corpus Christi - the Body and Blood of Jesus.

We can envision Life in Christ as a daily walk with Jesus. That walk involves listening to Jesus. As we saw with those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we listen to Jesus in the Bible and the sacraments. "Were not our hearts burning within us?" they ask. I hope that happened at least in a tiny way when we inaugurated the Bible Study on Monday. After Jesus opens Scriptures, he takes bread, blesses, breaks and gives it to the disciples. The phrase "breaking of the bread" refers to Eucharist, the Mass - the high point of our Life in Christ. We'll see that when we conclude our series with Corpus Christi Sunday.

Last weekend we celebrated the Ascension: We saw how Jesus gives a mission: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Our parish mission aligns with Jesus' mission. If you know it by heart please say it with me: "Blessed to live in this beautiful valley, we are Christians, in union with Pope Francis and Archbishop Sartain, who strive to lift up Jesus, love one another and make disciples." Some still need to learn it. (smile)

We have a big mission. It's not easy to lift up Jesus. We live in a world that either denies God's existence or assumes that if he does exist, he makes no difference. As far as loving one another, well, some people are easy to love, but others are difficult - and no human being is perfectly lovable.

Couples discover that early on. That perfect girl has strange moods. And although we men are practically perfect, we sometimes have minor defects. Nothing that a good anger management course can't correct - along with impulse control. While waiting for all that to kick in, well: It's not easy to love one another - in a family or in the broader community.

Regarding "make disciples" most of us hardly know where to start. The first step is to take up the work of listening to Jesus, following him day by day.

Lift up Jesus! Love one another! Make disciples! Where do we get the power to live our mission? Let me tell an anecdote. You may have heard it, but it bears repeating in this context.

Once an American had a visitor from England. He wanted to show his guest the marvels of our country, so he took him to Niagara Falls. From above they could appreciate the expanse of the Falls, as they looked from the U.S. to the Canadian side. Then they went below where the water made a deafening noise. The American explained about the enormous quantity of water and its great force. He had to practically shout into his friends ear as he concluded, "There is the greatest unused power in the world."

The visitor was duly impressed; he had seen nothing like it in his own country. But then, like a good Englishman, he started to think a little deeper. "Yes," he said to his American host, "the power here is great, but there is something much greater. The greatest unused power in the world is the Holy Spirit of the Living God."

This anecdote goes back to the nineteenth century. Since then about ten percent of Niagara Falls has been harnessed to produce hydroelectric power.

You know if we could harness even one percent of the Holy Spirit's power it would transform our world. Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. The question is: How can you and I tap into that power?

Let me suggest one way: Pay attention to the peaks and valleys. You know what I mean. Sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down. When I am up I have high energy and can get a lot done. But when I'm down, that also presents an opportunity. God allows those troughs so we can recognize our ultimate emptiness. We have an emptiness not even Niagara Falls can fill. We need the Holy Spirit of Jesus. The Sequence expresses this need:

"Heal our wounds, our strength renew
On our dryness pour your dew
Wash the stain of guilt away."

We need the Holy Spirit of Jesus: "Bend the stubborn heart and will; melt the frozen, warm the chill; guide the steps that go astray." We need the Holy Spirit of Jesus.

Next week - as we celebrate Trinity Sunday - I will tell you about an incident in Monroe prison and how it led me to reflect on Jesus' invitation to us.

That's for next week. For today take advantage of the greatest untapped power. Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Amen.


Spanish Version

From the Archives (Pentecost Sunday):

2016: Led by the Spirit
2015: Disciple Makers Week 8: Holy Spirit Make It Possible
2014: Practical Sign of Hope
2013: Even Greater Things
2012: Our First, Most Cherished Liberty
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?

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Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

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