I was reading my Pentecost homily from 2012 today (Ironically Pentecost fell on the first anniversary of my ordination). I was amazed at how much has changed and how much has stayed the same in the intervening six years. As for changes, my writing and preaching style have, improved (I hope!). The message of hope and love are still the same. I share with you that homily from six years ago. Oh, by the way, it was not just Pentecost and my ordination anniversary, but it was also Memorial Day weekend.
MAY 26, 2012
This week, I offered up two prayers; one for help watering the gardens and another for nice weather today. God answers all prayers; I just did not expect both of them to be answered on the same day. God works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform. ( they came in the wrong order- help watering first, and nice for the Mass that day- Just as we began Eucharist, God decided to water the gardens!)
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your Love”. With these words, we invite the Holy Spirit into our lives and our hearts. Without the love that the Spirit imparts, we cannot hope to live in God’s Love. We cannot truly know God or fully understand his ways.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the disciples of the coming of the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth. Like the disciples, we are unable to fully understand everything Jesus teaches us. The Spirit gives us the ability to know and love God and to understand.
Pentecost is a time of renewal, re-birth, re-creation. The images of wind and fire symbolize the Holy Spirit coming in to renew us in God’s love by burning away fear and alienation. Pentecost marks the coming of a new creation- the people of God being made into the church- the mystical body of Christ. A new way to live one’s life- a life in the Spirit.
I am reminded of the words of the prophet Joel, “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; even upon the servants and handmaids in those days, I will pour out my spirit. And I will work wonders in the heavens and on earth, blood, fire and columns of smoke…” The image of wind and tongues of fire in the account from Acts is a fulfillment of this prophesy.
This day, Pentecost, is very special for me. It marks the anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Looking back over the past year, I truly feel that newness of life in the Spirit. Truth be told, I can hardly believe that it has been a year already! I really feel that my life has changed dramatically. I am grateful to you, my parishioners, for your support and encouragement.
One thing that I still feel I need to work hard on are my homilies. I was on line the other day on an Independent Catholic page on Facebook. Bishop John Bell of the Reformed Catholic Church posted a quotation by Archbishop William Temple, that I found both profound and appropriate. I share it with you – “People often say to a preacher, ‘practice what you preach’ . That is a very wholesome prod for the preacher’s conscience; but if the preacher in fact preaches nothing more than what he can practice, he is preaching very badly.” I hope that I do not resemble that quote!! If I do, I trust that one of you will point out that fact to me.
The Holy Spirit came upon me and has enriched me more than mere words can describe. It was and is such an intense feeling of peace, joy, and awe; love, warmth, and strength that at times seem so totally overwhelming. I received God’s gift and I welcome it. My hope as a pastor is to be able to share it with you, to guide you to your own sense of it.
This weekend is full of celebration; Pentecost, my ordination anniversary, and Memorial Day. It is fitting that we are talking about love, renewal, and devotion. Pentecost, as I mentioned earlier, is the “Birthday” of the church. It celebrates the universality of God’s message of salvation. We, as the church, are tasked to proclaim the Gospel to all- to live our faith as members of the Body of Christ. The message is universal- it is the same in every language. God’s love knows no divisions.
It was on these principles that our nation was founded. Modern times have done its best to erode the True Unity. We strive to renew this nation and bridge the gaps that divide us. We honor those who have sacrificed family and even their own lives serving our nation to uphold these principles of unity, justice, and hope. This is what make us great, that even though in times of war, we may disagree with what is happening, but we do come together to honor those who have served. I am proud to have served in the U.S. Navy, as well as my grandfather (WW 1), my uncle (WW 2), and my father (Army WW 2).
As we approach the Table of the Eucharist, let us be mindful of the universal message of the Mystery of Faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to come upon you- Proclaim God’s love- The experience will change your life!
The message of Pentecost is universal. It knows no division. It is for all humankind so that all may know God’s love. That we may share the message of the Gospel to all who we encounter. We must not be afraid to share our gifts. Know that we are guided and nurtured by the Holy Spirit.
As I reflect on that Pentecost past, I am very much aware of the guidance of the Holy Spirit in what I do. I am grateful for the gifts that I have been given and trust that I am using them wisely. I feel the spirit within me and pray that I never lose the fire in my heart and soul.
Rev. Fr. Andrew Smith grew up in Appleton. WI. He studied Theology, Philosophy and Sociology at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, WI and completed his theological studies at Holy Redeemer Seminary of the UICC. Fr. Andrew was ordained to the diaconate in December of 2010 and to the Order of Presbyters in May of 2011. He entered his novitiate in the Order of Preachers Old Catholic in August of 2016 and took his three- year vows in May 2017. Fr. Andrew is pastor of St Dominic Old Catholic Church in Oshkosh, WI. He enjoys cooking, reading, writing and is an avid history buff.