Sunday, May 24, 2015

Together in One Place

Easter/Pentecost - Year B - 2015

'I wish our parish were on fire with the Holy Spirit the way the early Church was after that first Pentecost.’  Have you ever caught yourself thinking that?  What would happen if I ever caught fire with the Holy Spirit?  What would that be like?  What would my faith be like?  What would my family be like?  What would our parish be like?’ 

Think about it…  Even if you've never thought about it before…think about it now.  If we want to experience the fire and power of the Holy Spirit the way the early church first experienced it, we have to go about doing what they were doing – and Acts tells us they were expecting the coming of the Holy Spirit


Are we doing that…?  In our prayer, in the way we prioritize our lives, in the way we share life with our families and work in this world, are we expecting the coming of the Holy Spirit? 

If we want to experience the fire and power of the Holy Spirit, we have to expect the coming of the Spirit.  That means finding a way to invite the Holy Spirit into our lives – and not just where we feel safe enough to invite Him – but to invite Him into wherever and whatever He pleases.  What if we started our days by praying a simple prayer:  Come Holy Spirit – come into my life wherever and however you will – set me on fire!  What if we prayed that with our family?  What if we prayed that before every Mass we attend?  Come Holy Spirit…


And then – what if we actually began to look for the coming of the Spirit.  You know – tornado season is coming to Kentucky.  So when we go outside and see a dark cloud, automatically – without thinking really – we begin to look for severe storms so we won’t be left unprepared or unprotected.  What if we began to look for the Holy Spirit that way?  What if we listen to the announcements or read church bulletin looking for the Holy Spirit’s coming – what if we began to sit up straight and listen to the readings and the homily…looking for the Holy Spirit – expecting the Spirit to show up, and speak, and set us on fire.  What if we walked around our homes looking for the Holy Spirit?

Brothers and sisters – if we want to experience the Holy Spirit in fire and power, we need to begin to do what the apostles were doing that first Pentecost; they were expecting the coming of the Holy Spirit and looking for His arrival.  We can do it too!


There’s one other thing that is worth noticing.  The second chapter of Acts begins this way:  ‘When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.’  Together in one place  The apostles had been expecting the coming of the Holy Spirit, they were looking for His arrival, and they gathered themselves together in one place. 

On one hand, it’s easy to say ‘Well, Father, we've got that one down.  See?  Here we are – we’re all here, together in one place.’  Except for the fact that we can’t seem to get on the same page about some things, can we?  We argue about liturgy.  We might make it together on Sunday morning, but as a community we’re not all doing our part to get involved in the mission and ministry our parish, are we?  Leaving that for someone else to do.  What’s together about that?

Together in one place is not merely a spatial quality.  Here’s what I mean: imagine the most dysfunctional family you can.  Now imagine Thanksgiving Dinner at that house.  Uncle Bob is mad at everyone, Aunt Ruby is focused on making sure the fruit salad is good while Cousin Ned can’t believe he’s the only republican in the group.  The wealthy branch of the family tree has shown up in their finest dress, while the rest of us have come in shorts and T-Shirts.  Sure – they’re physically located in the same space, but wouldn't it be a stretch to say that they were truly together in one place?

Being together in one place means working hard to be of similar heart and mind.  Together in one place means that we have similar objectives, similar priorities, and similar ideas about how were moving forward together into the future.  Together in one place isn't a kind of boring uniformity where there is no room for discussion, difference, or variety, but it does mean that our hearts and minds are moving in the same direction, for much the same reasons, and along very similar paths.  Together in one place means we’re all – each of us – doing our part, sharing part of the load.  Think about how diverse the backgrounds of the apostles, how different their skills and talents – but then also think about what bound them together – what guided them and helped them to be one body of Christ with many members. 

That first Pentecost, the apostles were so together in one place that even when they went out to all the corners of the world, they somehow remained together in one place.  Just imagine what might happen in the life of our parish if our physical gatherings began to be mirrored by a more spiritual reality of truly being together in one place  Can you begin to pray and dream about how to make that happen?


Brothers and sisters – I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to transform the life of faith into something that is alive, all-consuming, more rewarding than we can imagine, and fruitful beyond our wildest dreams.  I believe the Holy Spirit is capable of consuming whatever lingers in us that holds us back and give us the spark of divine energy that will transform this thing we call ‘living the Christian life’ into something that changes the world.  And I believe you and I can catch that spark – I believe we can be set on fire with the Holy Spirit just like the apostles that first Pentecost.  I believe if we do what they did, we’ll find those tongues of fire dancing in our spirits and experience of this life like never before. 

If we do what they did, we’ll get what they got.  So let’s begin to expect the coming of the Holy Spirit, let’s look for the Holy Spirit wherever we go, and let’s work to be – heart and mind, truly – together in one place. 

Come Holy Spirit!

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