The first mass I ever said was on Pentecost Sunday. It wasn’t planned that way, it just happened that ordination weekend that particular year happened to line up well with the liturgical calendar, so on Saturday morning I was ordained and the following day, Pentecost Sunday, I had the joy of saying mass for the first time at my home parish, at the noon mass that my family always went to, with all the parishioners there who had watched me grow up. Every year on Pentecost part of my heart goes back to that day and remembers looking at my family and my friends and my parish… remembers looking at them and knowing that I was the least important person in the room. Somewhere in a Church document it is written that holy orders is not given to make the man who is ordained holy. The priesthood exists so that the People of God may be brought to holiness… and if doing ministry happens to inadvertently make the priest himself holy at the same time, well then all the better. I received the grace of this life not for my sake, but for yours.
And so too, has the Advocate come into your life and not for your own sake, but for others. We come to the end of Easter hopefully knowing at least this one thing beyond all doubt: that Christ knowingly and willingly gave up his life for our sake. Jesus Christ gives us himself. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ reminds us this! Think of those words he spoke before the Passion: Unless you lay down your life for a friend… I no longer call you slaves but friends… this is my body, given up for you… do this in remembrance of me. [at Vigil:] Think of the words of this Gospel: Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. [at Sunday:] Think of the words of this Gospel: Peace be with you… he showed them his hands and his side… Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.” Self-giving is the very thing that Christ modeled for us, and will be the only way that you or I find a fulfillment and a satisfaction with our lives. When the Apostles were filled with that Holy Spirit they went out of the upper room where they hid for their own sake and went into the streets and into every corner of the known world for the sake of others [at Sunday:] …for the sake of the Parthians and Medes and Elamites and every person who had not heard the mighty acts of God. The Advocate was given to us personally for a reason that is beyond just ourselves personally.
I said that the Holy Spirit came into your life. You were baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, you were taught everything that Christ said and reminded of all he told us, you received Confirmation and were sealed with the gifts of the Spirit, and you come here today to be given the sacrifice of the Cross on your tongue and in your heart in this sacred meal. The Spirit is in your life… and it is there for the sake of others. What gives us the drive to help the poor that we don’t personally know, the compassion to show mercy when it hasn’t been earned, the love that gives our hearts to a friend? It is the Spirit, reminding us that this is how Jesus lived and that he chose to give his life to us. And so, in imitation of Christ, a good life is not measured in what we have. It is measured in how much of our life we have given away.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.