May 31, 2020
Difficult trials that we are going through today can be part to the cross that empties and humbles us to receive the light of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit needs our lowliness and our emptiness so that we can be filled with Him.
- After Jesus’s crucifixion and 2 months before Pentecost, the Church that He was forming seemed crushed, weak, sinful, humiliated and dying.
- The Holy Spirit came from Jesus’s gift of Himself on the Cross.
- Before the Apostles were worthy of the gift of the Holy Spirit, they had to become humble and less prideful of themselves.
- The Holy Spirit needs to convict us of our sinfulness so that in humility, we can accept His gift of Himself, of His mercy.
- The Holy Spirit needs our humility and our lowliness, not our capabilities or powers.
- Our trials humble ourselves to be open to receive the light of the Holy Spirit and to trust in Jesus.
Too often our spiritual feelings are so easily contaminated with spiritual pride. Oftentimes the Holy Spirit has to let us feel our misery, weakness, humanity, poverty, and spiritual poverty. St. Paul says when the Son of God became man, He emptied Himself. The Holy Spirit needed to empty the apostles of themselves so that they could be filled with Him. And the Lord needs to empty us of ourselves so that we can be filled with Him. We have the great example in this young woman of Nazareth, who some 33 years earlier, when it had been announced that the Holy Spirit was going to overshadow her. The Lord looked upon her lowliness, her humility.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t need our capabilities, our powers. Our powers are nothing for what He wants to do. What He needs, is our humility, our lowliness. Remember what the image of Divine Mercy says, Jesus, I trust in You, that’s an act of humility.
Suddenly, a sound came from heaven, like the rush of a mighty wind. And it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them as tongues of fire. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. And this is the great birth of the Church, in which there was a fire lit, and the apostles giving them boldness to go out and proclaim Jesus Christ. Maybe we don’t feel that boldness today. That is listening to a lot of people, I think a lot of us are discouraged right now. Ourselves, our experience, our Church doesn’t seem like this Church with the fire the Holy Spirit, especially as we go through this Coronavirus crisis. As I say I sense a lot of discouragement, a lot listening to a lot of people in these times in which people a lot of people have been shut in. And when they’re shut in, for a long time with people, there’s a lot of problems that we experience in marriages and families, experiencing our own weakness or an impatience or an anger or frustration, our own sinfulness. When have you felt that and even in the Church, listening to people and also through like media, through social media throughout the world, I’m hearing a lot of people feeling disappointed, and even hurt and angered by the response of many pastors in the Church and which the Churches often seem weak, confused, compromised. And even more so now with all that now in our country with all that’s going on in our country with this with violence. So, it doesn’t seem like the Church, which this Pentecost is talking about. But it does seem like something that happened a little bit before. What was the Church the situation just less than two months before Pentecost? Remember, Jesus had been forming His Church for three intense years, choosing some of them to be leaders. And at the critical moment when the riot began to break out, in Jerusalem instigated by the officials – the apostles, and so many of the disciples at that critical moment, never seemed less spiritual, never seemed less capable, never seem less worthy of their leadership roles than that point. Many the apostles themselves abandoned Jesus. The leader denied Him. One of them betrayed Him. The whole church seemed weak. This whole Church that Jesus had been forming at the critical moment seemed so weak, so sinful, it seemed to be crushed, humiliated. It seemed to be dying, destroyed. And yet there was in that moment of humiliation and darkness and violence, something mysterious was happening. St. John Paul wrote a beautiful document on the Holy Spirit that the Latin title translates to Lord and giver of life. And one of the points he emphasized there was that the Holy Spirit came from Jesus gift of Himself, on the cross. We have here, the relic, that very cross of Jerusalem, a tiny piece of that very cross of Jerusalem. And the Pope points out that that’s where the Holy Spirit came from. He quotes Jesus words at the Last Supper. A few hours before his death, Jesus said apostles, the apostles were very sad, because of what was of Jesus announcing His death. But He said to them, “it is to your advantage that I go away”. Because if I do not go away, that the Paraclete, The Holy Spirit will not come to you. But if I go and I go, Jesus meant going, by his death on the cross by His sacrifice on the cross, if I go, I will send Him to you. So it’s by Jesus gift of Himself on the cross. That’s where the gift of the Holy Spirit comes from. And the Pope goes on to cite the words of the gospel, St. John’s Gospel, where Jesus on the cross, says, “It is finished.” And he bowed his head. And then the Gospel says, “and He gave up His Spirit”, gave up His Spirit. St. John Paul points out, that that’s also referring to the gift of His Holy Spirit, dying to give His Holy Spirit. And so the gospel we had today, which is taking place just two days after the resurrection, after the crucifixion, the first time Jesus appears to his apostles, what does He do? He breathes on them, and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” And so the gift of the Holy Spirit comes from Jesus crucified, at that moment, which seemed so just seemed to be the triumph of evil. That was the moment preparing the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. What is the main point of what I’m trying to say today? I’ll sum it up in one word, you only have one word to remember. It starts with an H, humility, humility, humility, drawls the Holy Spirit. And perhaps the disciples, the apostles, the apostles who were kind of proud that they were the ones chosen by Jesus to be the leaders form, they were His special companions. Maybe they needed to be humbled. Maybe they needed to be crushed. Maybe they needed to be emptied of their ego, their pride. Their ego, and their pride needed to be crucified, so that they could become is worthy apostles. So the path of the apostles will not was not just getting better and better and better until Jesus said, since you guys are so great I’m going to give you the Holy Spirit. No, they were going along. And then as they were with Jesus, they also began to realize how weak they were. But there is still a lot of pride, still a lot of who’s first. And so they had to fall. They had to be humbled. Their pride and ego crushed. Jesus said, at the Last Supper again, when He talks about the Holy Spirit, He says, when He comes, He will convince the world of sin, and righteousness and judgment. It’s a word our world doesn’t even like to hear anymore, sin and righteousness and judgment. And Peter, who had been so powerfully convicted of his own sinfulness, Peter said, Lord, Peter was way too confident of himself, Lord, even if everyone else abandons you, I won’t. My love for you, my fidelity is too strong, I won’t. Hours later, he did. So Peter had been so powerfully convicted of his own sinfulness. And on the day of Pentecost, we didn’t have the whole reading today, but on the day of Pentecost, St. Peter, when he preaches, he also convicts, the people who are listening to him, there in Jerusalem; you crucified Jesus, your Savior. So Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit is convicting them of their sinfulness. Not to condemn them, but to humble them so that they could receive the gift of God’s mercy of the Holy Spirit. And so the Holy Spirit needs to convict us of our sinfulness, but not to discourage us, so that in humility, we can accept His gift of Himself of His mercy. The Lord doesn’t need our spiritual feelings. The apostles when Jesus was dying did not feel very spiritual. They felt their humanity, their poverty, their sinfulness. Too often our spiritual feelings, our dangerous spiritual feelings is that they’re so easily contaminated with spiritual pride. And so, oftentimes the Holy Spirit has to strip us of all of that. And let us feel our misery, our weakness, our humanity, our poverty, spiritual poverty. He needs our emptiness. St. Paul says that Jesus, when the Son of God became man, he says, He emptied Himself. He emptied Himself, and the Holy Spirit needed to empty the apostles of themselves, so that they could be filled with Him. And the Lord needs to empty us of ourselves so that we can be filled with Him. We have the great example, in this young woman of Nazareth, who some 33 years earlier, when it had been announced that the Holy Spirit’s going to overshadow her. And then a few days later with Elizabeth when she is inspired by when Mary is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and she is proclaiming her great canticle of praise. What does she say? She says, The Lord has looked upon the what of His servant? He doesn’t say she doesn’t say He’s looked upon the holiness, or the purity, or the courage, or the virtue, or the strength, but she had all that. What was it that she says, the Lord has looked upon the lowliness, lowliness, the humility, the lowliness. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need our capabilities, our powers. Our powers are nothing for what He wants to do. What He needs is our humility, our lowliness. Then at the sequence sister sang, this calls Him the traditional title, Father of the poor, the poor, the little, the weak. And the apostles had to realize their weakness, their sinfulness, so that he could then come and fill that. And so that the key word I want to leave with you all today as our country goes through this Coronavirus crisis, and as I said, which is in so many ways, so humiliating for many of us as we experienced our own weakness sinfulness, as we sense them, the weakness in the Church, and many of the leaders of the Church and what happened with the apostles we see happening and many of us pastors of the Church. So, this, as I say, is a very discouraging time for a lot of people. But on the contrary, this difficult trial that we’re going through can be the path of the cross, that empties us, that humbles us so that we can receive the light of the Holy Spirit. So the key word I want to leave you with today is humility, humility, so that we can then turn with trust not in ourselves, remember, what are we don’t have. Remember what the image of Divine Mercy says. Remember that? Jesus, I trust in me, right? Jesus I trust in me, or did I get a word wrong? Trust in yourself, that’s what it says. Right? That’s what it says at the bottom of Divine Mercy trust in yourself. Jesus, I trust in You, I trust. So that’s an act of humility. I don’t trust in myself. The Holy Spirit doesn’t need to practice social distancing. He doesn’t have to keep a safe distance from us. He can come to us. There’s no lockdown of the Holy Spirit. There’s fires being set, in many cities of the United States, which are not fires of the Holy Spirit right now. But we pray for His divine flame. And so I just want to end by praying the sequence that this ancient hymn that Sister Amapola sang in Latin before the Gospel. I’m just gonna pray it with you which is asking it’s an invocation of the Holy Spirit and if you want to feel free to close your eyes, and call on the Holy Spirit for ourselves, for our church for our world, right now. “Come, Holy Spirit. And send from on high a ray of your light. Come, Father of the poor, come giver of gifts. Come light of our hearts, supreme consoler, sweetest guests of our souls, soothing freshness at work, be our rest, in fever, be our coolness, in tears, be our comfort. Oh, blessed light, fill to the brim the hearts of your faithful. Without your divine power, there is nothing in us that is not perverted. Cleanse, what is dirty. Refresh, what is dry. Heal, what is wounded. Bend what is rigid. Warm, what is cold. Straighten what is twisted. To the faithful who confide in you, give your seven-fold gift. Give merit and virtue. Give final salvation. Give joy without end.” Amen