Pentecost Sunday - Homily 1

 Homily 1 - 2006

Did you notice how Luke put it in the first reading? Each of us hears them in our own native language!

And then Paul made the point that baptism makes us one in Christ, but the Spirit ensures our individuality, our unique giftedness, and thus enriches and contributes to our common life as the Body of Christ in the world.

We struggle with diversity – in the secular world and in the Church.

Our nation struggles with cultural and ethnic diversity. We insist that we decide who comes here, irrespective of their need for asylum, for survival, or for a decent life. We see being different as being somehow inferior.

We truly struggle to look at Aboriginal Australians as sharing the same human dignity and to interact with them respectfully in the light of our shared humanity.

We struggle with political differences, and seek to impose our particular ideology by weight of numbers or economic pressure or astuteness at lobbying.

Our Church struggles with diversity – at times frightened of the individual conscience, of diverse theological leanings or sometimes even personal preferences.

No one can do our growing for us. We can’t inherit human or Christian maturity. Each of us has to start from scratch. So at any one time in the Church there are some who are mature, some still quite immature and most of us somewhere in between.

Our growth as unique human persons and as disciples of Jesus is the specialty of the Holy Spirit.

Paul said in one of his letters: The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given us. That Spirit is precisely the energy who enables and empowers and enriches us to love unconditionally – to love others as unique, as different, even as enemies.

Group-think is not a sign of the presence of the Spirit. Group love! That’s different. That’s the possibility. But it’s always a struggle. We are born focussed on our own needs; and the more insecure we are, the more we get stuck there and the more we are rattled by difference.

Jesus breathed on the disciples. He handed on to them the Spirit that had enlivened him – the Spirit that empowered him to say Peace be with you to the men who had denied and deserted him, and did not understand him.

The sin of the world expresses itself in the unwillingness of people to love - to love God, the source of truth, justice, beauty and love, to love themselves and to understand and to respect their own dignity, and to love others and to respect their human dignity, always, despite the differences.

Empowered by the Spirit, Jesus broke the stranglehold of sin on the world. Breathing the same Spirit on us, he empowers us to engage with the sin of the world, not in our strength but in our vulnerability - the vulnerability that is the hallmark of genuine love. We can hold back, of course, frightened of our vulnerability.

The world’s future is entrusted to us: For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.

We greeted the gospel today: Come Holy Spirit; fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love. A wonderful note on which to bring the extended feast of Easter to an end!