Fr Adrian's Homily
Year A 2020
Fr Adrian Farrelly
Alive in the Spirit: Fr Adrian
Today’s feast of the coming of the Spirit marks the end of the church’s celebration of Easter, the central feast of the church’s liturgical year. Pentecost was a Jewish feast held fifty days after the Passover. Originally probably a harvest festival, it had by the time Luke wrote his gospel become a celebration of God’s gift of the Law to Moses and the Hebrews birth as the chosen people.
Luke saw parallels with what God was doing now with the birth of a new people who were given all the gifts they needed to complete Christ’s work on earth and themselves come to the fullness of grace. Luke’s description of the gift of the Spirit is dramatic with images easily associated with the presence and action of God – fire and wind. The fire does not stay as a single blaze but separates and comes to rest on each one present. Jerusalem, at Pentecost, saw visitors from near and far gather for the festival and the disciples, empowered by the Spirit, tell them all about Jesus in ways each of them could understand.
In summary form, as it were, Luke is describing what he sees happening in the church he belongs to. The original disciples watched Jesus die and then met him alive three days later. With Jesus’ assistance the disciples revisited everything he had said and done while they moved around the country with him in his public ministry of preaching and healing. In particular, he led them to understand that his suffering and death was part of the way God would free people from fear of suffering and death. The disciples walked onto the world stage with great news to be offered to the whole of humanity.
The church has developed over the centuries in its structures. Titles like pope, bishop, laity did not exist in the early church. Each community had its leaders and a variety of ministries as we read in the letters of St Paul. Some elements have remained much as they were. The communities gathered on the first day of the week to break bread, listen to the teaching of the apostles, pray and simply enjoy each other’s company. In time, especially after the emperor became Christian, and the church grew in numbers, church structure took on a more imperial appearance and church leaders dressed more like imperial officials.
Under the influence of the Spirit though, the church has reformed again and again with its central activity remaining the same, the proclamation of the good news of Jesus dead and risen and the creation of communities of those baptised into the life of Father, Son and Spirit, living as Jesus did and doing his work of bringing others to love God and their neighbour.
This development of the Church is still under way. One important development is the recognition that baptism is the foundational sacrament. Each baptised person is gifted to be a priest (pray and sanctify people), a prophet (teach and challenge) and shepherd king (caring for all and the planet itself). The governance of the church is seeing moves to greater co-responsibility with the laity. The disaster of the abuse crisis provides a moment of grace for this development to take a deeper hold. The loss of engagement with the majority of the baptised in communal prayer and worship calls for creative ways to re-engage, to recapture the imaginations of the young and not so young with the adventure that is being a disciple of Jesus, not just to return to old ways of doing parish life but ask the Spirit for guidance and then follow what is offered.
The Spirit is within you as within a temple. Know who you are. Know what power you have received. Use it to bring life to the world you are an important part of.
Come Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of the faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.