The following is adapted from Bishop Gerald Barnes homily at the Mass on the Feast of Pentecost held at the Ramona Bowl in Hemet on May 19.
Everything that is great and grand, that is worth doing, has a cost.
We see it in our lives. We see it in the preparation that is needed – sometimes years, weeks or months of practice. We have many children graduating, as well as college students graduating. Those events just don’t come. It’s after years of study and preparation. It’s after people walking with them and helping to form them.
This is Confirmation Season. We see the effect of all the years of preparation and prayer that people have. We just celebrated Mother’s Day People made preparations. People had to spend money. Some people traveled just to be in touch or to spend time with their mothers or their loved ones at that time. And then we wonder what happens after Mother’s Day? What happens after graduation? What happens after Confirmation?
We have great events and then, what happens?
It is as if all our time and all our effort was in the coordination, preparation and formation, and then we leave it there.
A lot of the young people that are graduating are happy to get out of school, but they don’t know what is going to happen to them next. Many are graduating from college and don’t know if they are going to get a job. Kids who are graduating from high school are anxious. They have these months in between where they go to school or find a job. They are confused, they are in an area of not knowing.
Great things happen and then we go back and we feel nervous now. We don’t know what to do. When someone retires, they think, “What am I going to do when I retire? What am I worth?”
Easter becomes an event also for many of us. It is something we build up to, through our Lenten practices and with a good confession, some time in prayer and in sharing, a great celebration of Holy Week and then Easter. And then it’s back to the same thing, as if Easter and all that we have done is just an event and we leave it there.
So today we see in this great feast, we come to see these disciples who have walked with Jesus for three years. They’ve learned from him, witnessed all that he had said and done. Then at the end, they betray him, they deny him, they run away. They begin to live in fear, closed up, hesitant, confused. They don’t understand. All that has just happened is just gone.
And so we have these disciples locked in the room, out of fear, out of confusion, not knowing what to do. The Lord appears to them and he breathes on them. He gives them his life as the creator, our God, breathed and gave man his life. A new life they have. A new freedom they have, where they don’t have to live in fear or in confusion any longer. And still they don’t understand. Still the room is locked, until the feast of Pentecost, when the power of the Holy Spirit bursts open inside of them. That spirit they had received now comes upon them like fire and tongues above their heads and in languages they did not know. It bursts out. The Lord enabled them to grasp and embrace the newness of life that he had given them and their lives changed.
So we celebrate that newness that comes today. A newness that enables these disciples to reach out to people they did not know, whose language was foreign to them. The word of God touches all humanity. The relationship between all peoples is key and central to the work of the Holy Spirit and key to who we are as children of God. We gather today here of different ethnicities, of different parishes, different upbringings. It is the power of that word in the new disciple that enables us to see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
That is why this is a great day for the Church. A great day in which we remember we are called to be one, one in the spirit. The Lord has enabled us, with the power of that spirit, to reach out to each other regardless of our color, language or nationality. For us to reach out in the name of Christ and to transform the world, that the world gives praise and honor to almighty God.
This cannot be just another event in our lives. Pentecost is a way that we live. We allow the spirit that is in us to come out and come forth and to bring about that peace and unity that the Lord has wished and prayed upon us. We cannot go back and live in fear, a fear that paralyzes us. We cannot go back and close our doors from our brothers and sisters. This is a way of life.