Today we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost. It is the fiftieth day of Easter and the day on which we commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on believers and the “beginning” of the Church of Jesus Christ. This is the day on which we listen to our scriptures offer different perspectives on the meaning and significance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is often called the “birthday” of the Church. This isn’t a bad image at all. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit that the followers of Jesus are bound together as a community of faithful believers. It is in the power of the Holy Spirit that disciples are entrusted with the great responsibility to continue the mission of Jesus into “the whole world.” The reading from the Acts of the Apostles reminds us of the universality of our mission when it speaks of the barriers of language and race being broken down, a reversal of the ancient sin recounted in Genesis (Tower of Babel) as God works to restore wholeness to his people.
But how do we make Pentecost relevant in our lives? In what ways do our lives witness to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church. Here at Lourdes we inscribed words over the main entrance to our church to remind us of how we continue to live out the mission of Jesus. We strive to “Embrace God’s People, Equip Disciples, and Accompany Believers.” We find the inspiration for these words in this passage from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature to manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ. (Eph 4:7, 11-15)
Life in Christ is our goal. We achieve it by striving to be welcoming of all God’s people, by opening our hearts and our lives to others, embracing them with the warmth of Jesus’ own embrace. Everyone is welcome into our lives and into our community. We greet everyone because we recognize in the ‘other’ the dignity which is our own by the grace of God our Father in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And we commit to growing in our relationship with Jesus, the one who dares to call us ‘friend.’ We commit to growing into our relationship with Jesus, deepening our understanding of who Jesus is and of what it means for us to be his disciples. We further commit to accompanying one another on this journey of faith in life, because we understand that the journey is what brings us closer to our destiny as children of God.
The mission of the Church is the mission of Jesus Christ. Our efforts and our ministries are our modern expressions of the efforts and ministry of Jesus who set about proclaiming the Kingdom of God among us. Everything Jesus did and taught was to witness to a new way of living, of being in the world. It was a way in which life would be lived in the freedom of the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of life, justice and peace.
We might well wonder how we, in our simple ways of living, might be part of such a great enterprise as this, building up the Kingdom of God? Next Saturday, here at Lourdes we are hosting a wonderful opportunity known as “Called and Gifted.” It is a workshop designed to help Christians discern the presence of charisms in their lives. It has been used by hundreds of thousands of believers, and it has the potential to change lives for the good. It is an opportunity for renewal and for recognizing the outpouring of the Holy Spirit among us once more. More information can be found by calling the office or elsewhere in this bulletin.
Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ