A few years before I was ordained I was at a mass that one of the retired priests of the diocese was presiding at. At that time he was not too far away from being a priest for fifty years, and as he preached his homily I thought about the massive number of homilies he must have preached over his lifetime. It was a real moment of hesitation for me in my own vocation, because I sat there and thought to myself, “well shoot, I’m not going to have anything left to say after probably three months!” And now four years into my priesthood, the Scriptures continue to be alive and new every time I sit with them and pray about what I need to tell you. I really want you to know that my faith has deepened because of the needed to speak God’s word to your hearts from the depths of mine. And of the ways that serving you has transformed my life, today some of the most significant pieces come together as we meditate on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church.
I’ve preached to you several times about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, about how I would teach our young people preparing for Confirmation about them and have them reflect on what gift they needed most in their lives. Today’s second reading was that very same topic, as St. Paul told us that there are many spiritual gifts given to us as individuals for the benefit of the Church as one body. I’ve preached to you several times about this Gospel and Jesus appearing to his apostles who abandoned him at the Cross and twice repeating those beautiful words of, “peace be with you.” And because of that when we turn to each other at mass for the sign of peace and say, “peace be with you”, those words have weight; they are more than just a greeting they are a desire for the peace and mercy of Christ to be in the heart of that other person. I’ve preached to you several times about the love and the mercy of Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation where the Church in the power of the Spirit proclaims the forgiveness of sins. And it’s still true that in that moment, no matter who is sitting before me or what sins I have heard, I have only felt an intense love and compassion that in my mind is the heart of Christ the priest is privileged to stand in the place of.
I said that my faith has deepened in these four years of preaching to you. I came here ready to share with you my conviction that our faith is real and alive, that you should approach the sacred mysteries with an expectation that they will be actual experiences that overwhelm your hearts. Now because of our time together, and I can go further and say that it is the Holy Spirit which makes our faith alive, that moves our hearts, that transforms us at this altar. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. The way he looked at the world, the way that he loved those around us, the way that he gave his life for our sake… that is the Spirit of Christ and that is the same Spirit that now dwells in us. In your baptism when you were anointed with the Spirit, in your Confirmation when you were sealed in the fullness of the grace of the Spirit, and in this Eucharist when you receive truly the life of Christ made present by the Spirit… it is an eternal Pentecost in our lives.
If you hear and remember only one thing from me out of these past four years, hear this: the Spirit of Christ is in your heart and will lead you to all truth.
Sign up here to have new homilies emailed to you.
Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone