A Message from Monsignor Jay…
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Although we had hoped to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost together in our church, we are not able to do that this week due to the limitations placed on public worship by our County Executive. While much effort is being exerted in the process of returning to church, this delay gives us additional time to reflect upon what it means to be a church and how to live and share our faith with joy.
As we celebrate the Church’s reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we remember that this great gift has two purposes. First, the Spirit informs the Church. Jesus said that the Spirit will help the community of faith to grow in its understanding of his message and mission. The Spirit brings the Church God’s gifts of Wisdom and Understanding. This is best represented as we read of the Spirit coming upon the Apostles as tongues of flame and giving them the ability to speak of Christ in understandable ways across the great divides of language and culture. The understanding of the origin of these divides in the Hebrew Scriptures was humanity’s hubris in our attempt to build a tower that could reach heaven. God stopped that effort by creating our inability to communicate on many levels. The gift of the Spirit reverses that confusion so the Church could fulfill its mission to “proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.” There was now no need to build a tower to heaven so that we could see and hear God. In Jesus, God dwells with us and we hear his voice in the Gospel and the teachings of our Church. The Spirit inspires the Church in every age to speak the truth of the Gospel and of our faith in ways that help people come to Jesus and share the joy of faith with others. The early faith community did not hesitate to take up this mission and the increase in believers speaks to the success of its efforts. Of course, there were challenges, resistance, rejection, and persecution, but the Spirit allowed the Church to persevere and find ways to continue the work of Jesus. As we examine the history of the Church, we discover that the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit has guided and inspired the Church to meet the challenges of every age. This is true in our time, too, as we seek ways to invite the NONES to come to know Christ in our midst through the beauty of the practice of our faith, the wisdom of faith, and our commitment to being of service to those in need as we wash feet in the way of Jesus. We have experienced the guidance of the Holy Spirit in this time of pandemic and isolation. We have been able to use the creativity of many to continue our connection with one another in the Lord and to develop new technical skills to provide experiences of worship in our homes when we have been unable to come to church. This Feast calls us to continue to look to the Spirit as we identify what we have learned and decide how to carry the lessons of this moment into our future church life and ministry. In a very real way, the present difficulty has helped us realize the difficulties of the early church, and, like that community, to trust in the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide us. This Pentecost, unlike any other, is a rare opportunity to receive and follow the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit that gives us the courage to live our faith undauntedly and to share it with our world.
Second, the Spirit formed the Church into the community of faith it was called to be. The Spirit led the Apostles out of Jerusalem to other lands where they proclaimed Jesus’ Resurrection and helped people come to know him in their preaching, the witness of their lives, and baptism into his life, death, and resurrection. Through the ministry and life of St. Paul, the Spirit expanded the Church’s self-understanding and made it an inclusive community that welcomed all in the Name of Jesus. The Spirit always seeks to form the Church in holiness, but it also challenges it to move beyond the walls of the sanctuary to preach and witness to Jesus on the dusty, violent, and harsh streets of our world. The work of St. Theresa of Kolkata and her sisters is a stark example of what holy work looks like: compassion, mercy, and respect for the dignity of every person carried out with a sense of joy and hope. The same Spirit that inspires their work is with us today. That is the joy of this Feast. On this Pentecost, we can ask ourselves what holy work does the Spirit form us for, and what will it look like? Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. Kindle in us the fire of your love and we shall renew the face of the earth.
May God’s Peace be Yours,