Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Homily Pentecost 2009

The following are incomplete notes that do not reflect the completeness of the homily.

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Separate room devoted to Thomas Cole’s “Voyage of Life”
4 paintings in succession depicting stages of life
Each scene is of the same man in a boat on the water accompanied by an angel

Youth, childhood – obvious serenity, hope, beautiful scenes of bright sunshine,
verdant meadows and peaceful streams
Old age – still waters, man at rest, sunset, all is at peace

Manhood – violent storm, jagged rocks and gnarled trees, choppy waves,
demon figures lurking above and the angel is distant
Only in the distance through a natural rock arch can we see the horizon and a glimpse of sunlight.
To the right we see that the boat is helplessly floating toward the brink of a waterfall.

The image depicts the trials of life, which are often dark, threatening, unforgiving
Scene of complete emptiness and despair and everything is against man in the boat
He is pleading with the divine on the brink of disaster

Every person faces this – family disputes, job loss, economic hardship, betrayal, disintegration of relationships
We all face times when love is absent from our lives
We all experience emptiness and fear
We all want to be happy…to be loved…
And so many times life fails us, disappoints us, leaves us empty

In the painting, the demons are hovering over the stormy waters while the angel is far away
The man has a choice – to give in to the demons
or turn to the divine presence and open himself up so that God can be close to him, to ignore his identity as a human person and a child of God or to embrace the image of the divine that is within him

The man is each of us at some point in our lives – pleading with the divine, pleading for love, knowing he cannot survive on his own any more than we can survive without God and one another, knowing only in God will he find peace

In the end he makes it through to old age with the angel beside him
He made the right choice

When we are in trouble, empty, longing for love, searching for answers, where do we turn?
When our hearts are restless in what or in whom do we find comfort?

In the trials of life, our human sorrow longs to be consoled
In every season of life, there is a yearning within each of us for something more

The world and the fleeting fancies forced on us by the media and clever advertising cannot calm our fears nor satisfy our desires, for we are made for God

As we celebrate Pentecost, we rejoice in the truth that God’s Holy Spirit is the true source of life and that the goal of the entire Christian life is to become intoxicated in the love of God

Our reading from Acts stops short of one of the best parts of the story
After the Spirit descends upon the Apostles and Mary in the upper room, the Apostles go out into the streets acting in a most peculiar way – proclaiming the good news in many languages, perhaps dancing like giddy children, leaping for joy

The people watching them say “they have had too much wine” and “they are acting like drunken men”
Peter, ever the voice of reason in the name of the Church, cries out, “they are not drunk, it’s only 9 o’clock in the morning and they have not had any wine
They have received the Spirit, just as the scriptures foretold

The Apostles were intoxicated on the Spirit, on the love of God

The Holy Spirit is none less than the love of the Father and the Son which bursts forth in a new and third person in the divine Trinity
Thus the intimate love that is shared between God the Father and Jesus Christ is shared with us in our baptism

On Tuesday I will have been a priest for 2 years and, in that short time, amid a tremendous amount of goodness and love, I have seen a great deal of untapped, unfulfilled potential

I have seen superficiality, bitterness toward the Church, narcissism
I have seen men and women in their pride ignoring the obvious working of the Spirit in their own lives and living as if they only need God some of the time

I have also seen that God’s people are in need everywhere; that they are starving for fulfillment and love, and many of us are settling for mediocrity

When we are starving, McDonalds chicken nuggets seem mighty good
Christ and His Church offer us a gourmet banquet…and it’s all free…if we only drink deeply of the wine of God’s love…and be intoxicated in the Spirit

We are called to be inebriated with God’s Spirit, to leave ourselves behind and allow God to take over
When we do He will have us bursting at the seams with love and peace

Because I love you, I say to you that there is so much good in you left unexplored.
All that we are afraid to lose when we leave “me” behind and say yes to God will be restored a hundred fold more beautifully that we can imagine

Before I was a priest, I worked in a funeral home and among my duties was mowing the lawn.
When I set out to mow for the first time, I struggled with the mower until a co-worker decided to tell me that it was a self-propelled mower and I had to engage the wheels
I was mowing but working against the motor and struggling all on my own
Once I engaged the self-propelled feature, I was still mowing but in straight lines without the messiness that came from struggling
So, too, when we allow God to be in control, we do not lose our identity but instead we discover its fullest reality
God leads and we hang on for an incredible ride

We begin this journey toward intoxication in the Spirit
by making daily prayer an unshakable priority
by reading and understanding the Bible and the Church’s teaching
and then submitting ourselves to the will of God and the Church
by giving our very best for God every day
and by opening our hearts to His grace and to the possibility that He actually
knows what is good for us better than we know ourselves

When we are filled with the Spirit, will there still be storms?
Of course…there will be storms, rocks, waves
And yet the Spirit will allow you to soar above them and even above the clouds, and the demons will not harm you

Instead, if our hearts are opened and the eyes of our minds are perceptive to the things of God the Spirit will overshadow us and we will truly find peace.

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