Did you know the feast of Pentecost predates the coming of the Holy Spirit? It’s true. The disciples were gathered to celebrate a Jewish feast. In the Old Covenant, God had established this celebration as a remembrance of the giving of the law to Moses, and it was celebrated every year, seventy days after the Passover. It is interesting that God chose this day to pour the Holy Spirit into humanity. Think about it. Out of the three hundred sixty-five days the Lord could have selected, God decided to come on this particular feast. Could it be a coincidence? I do not think so.
Just like Christmas celebrates the coming of Christ, Pentecost marks the coming of the Spirit. In Christmas, we celebrate that God has come for us. In Pentecost, we rejoice that God has come to dwell within us. Christmas, Easter and Pentecost are the three great feasts of the Church. Without the last of these, we would still be distant from the Lord. Through the coming of the Spirit we are made members of Christ's family, and in the Spirit we are enabled to "cry out, "Abba! Father."" Don't miss it. Pentecost is important.
Do we believe Jesus words? I think most practicing Catholics would say “yes, of course, we do.” Then they may cite Jesus’ words to Peter in Matthew 16:18, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” Or, they might cite Jesus’ words about the Eucharist in John chapter 6:53, “unless you eat the flesh of the son of man, and drink his blood you have no life within you.” While we may struggle at times, for the most part, we get Jesus teachings about the Church and the sacraments. That is where most of our minds jump when asked, “Do you believe Jesus words?” But what about the things Jesus said about you? What about Jesus words about the life we are called to in him? What about the things Jesus said about the Holy Spirit? Do you believe those words? I’ll give you and example. At the end of Mark’s Gospel Jesus says to the disciples,
These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16:17-18)
Do you believe Jesus words there?
In John 15:9-17, Jesus tells the disciples that he loves them like the father loves him. What does that mean? It means Jesus loves us a lot. Shouldn’t we get that Jesus loves us? He lives for us, dies for us, and rises from the dead for us. He does all of that out of love. Hear that. Jesus really loves us. But, here is the thing, that doesn’t mean we always feel that love. In fact, there are many people, both inside the Church and out, who Jesus loves. The reality is that every human being ever created is loved by God. That is a truth. Jesus came to save all mankind. Also true and terrible, is that not every man will accept that salvation. Many of those whom Jesus loves choose to live outside of his love.
If we are going to grow, and stay alive in our faith we need to allow God permission to prune us. Yes, I love the harvest seasons of life. I love when I can see God moving in and through me. And no, I do not look forward to, or seek out, times of trial or pruning. I do not seek them out, but I do know that I need them. When trial comes, rather then rebelling, we need to submit our lives more deeply to Christ. It is during those seasons that God is working, preparing for the next harvest. We need to be pruned. We need to have the sick, sinful parts of our lives cut back so that a new season of harvest can come.
Our Gospel for this Sunday ends with the verse, "But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well." Let that sink in.
God knows us and knows us well. When we look at the Ten Commandments or the teachings of the Church, we have to remember that God didn't make a mistake. He gave us these teachings because he loves us and knows what we need.
Do you trust the Lord? Abraham must have trusted the Lord. He must have trusted Him even in circumstances that did not make sense. Abraham's faith was tested in the most terrible way I can imagine. The life of his son. He responded in faith. I imagine there was sorrow, but sorrow did not become despair. Sorrow did not become anger. Sorrow was tempered by faith. By a faith that trusted in God, even though his call did not make sense.