Homily for Pentecost Sunday

Today we are not just keeping Pentecost; we are living it. We are enacting it.

On that Pentecost Day in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, there were people – Jews mainly – “from every country under heaven”. Here today, there are Christians from many countries. It’s a precious thing that our community in this parish and in St Joseph’s school gathers so many people from such a diversity of places. The Church is the gathering together of scattered humanity. It’s where we learn to be sisters and brothers in Christ, sons and daughters of one heavenly Father, living together in peace.

Today we are living Pentecost.

On that Pentecost day in Jerusalem 2000 years ago: “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” – “they” being that first seedling Christian community, gathered around the 12 apostles and Mary the mother of Jesus, 120 persons in all. Today, here, in this and a later celebration, there will be 90 people receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”, they will hear from the Bishop. “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” “The sacrament of Confirmation is a personal Pentecost for the whole of life”, said St John Paul II. Pentecost is alive in the Church, in us. And all of us today have a chance to rekindle that gift of God.

So, what is this Pentecost?

In God, in the Trinity, beyond time, the Holy Spirit completes God. We name the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”, one God in Three persons, a Lover, a Beloved and Love – a completion. And when, in time, two thousand years ago, the Holy Spirit came, Jesus was fulfilling his promise, and that all that he is and has and does is now made available to us. There’s a completeness there too. And for us too when we are confirmed. “Completion” is another name for this Sacrament. After Baptism and Reconciliation and Holy Communion comes Confirmation and our sacramental initiation is completed. Our candidates will be anointed with perfumed oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit. They will be sealed, made over to God. Yes, you’ll be filled with the Holy Spirit.You’ll have everything you need to be a Christian in the Catholic Church. You’ll be ready to go, ready for action. You’ll be like fireworks or rockets ready to fire off.

There’ll be no bangs or crashes or mighty winds and tongues of fire; just a dab of oil and a handful of words. But it’s real, believe me. Afterwards, we will probably feel just the same. But we’re more than what we feel, and you won’t be the same. There will be more in you. In God’s eyes, you’ll be a packet of dynamite. You’ll have a seed in the soil of your soul pushing towards the light. Because into you today comes a rush of God’s breath, God’s living water, God’s fire.  You are being connected, 5G now, to God’s worldwide web, the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. You are receiving a free download of spiritual energy. All you need to do is click “Accept” with your heart and say “Amen.” And you will begin to do brave and beautiful and fruit-bearing things for God, things that help others. You’ll be able to resist the Devil and lies and bad things. Your needn’t add to the world’s problems; you can be part of the solution. You’ll be people of prayer. Helped by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you can bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit St Paul mentions. You’ll be strong in faith and hope and love. And you can be the saints of the 21st century.

Yes, today is your Pentecost and from today you can be Jesus: his goodness and truth in the world.

Will you?

St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen, 19 May 2024


RC Diocese of Aberdeen Charitable Trust.
A registered Scottish Charity Number SC005122