Saturday, May 30, 2020
2020/05/31 - Pentecost - "Something BIG"
We’re gonna do something different right now – I had a vision that we’re supposed to sing this song today…. I’ll explain it more in my homily, but I need your help to make this happen.
Emily and Ayane and I are going to sing a beautiful song from Hillsong called ‘King of Kings’. It tells of how God’s plan of salvation came to life - These ladies will do a beautiful job of singing it – but there’s a spot where we sing ‘Then the Church of Christ was born’…. At that moment – I need everybody to stand up and sing along.
Now this is tough – because most of you don’t know the song. I put the words in the bulletin, but we can’t pass those out until after Mass!!!! So – if you CAN sing along, please do…. At least the chorus should sound familiar the third time we sing it, so let’s see how this goes… If it goes well, the Spirit gets the credit. If it flops – you can blame me :)
Something BIG happened today… know what it was? We didn’t hear it but right AFTER today’s first reading, The apostles preached about Jesus and 3000 people became Christian that day!!! 3000! What did the apostles say that day that would convert 3000 people?
It wasn’t WHAT they said, but how they said it. Their hearts were on fire… they had enthusiasm, conviction, there was a joy and hope about them that was beyond explanation. They had given total control of their bodies over to the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit could speak THROUGH them. People didn’t just HEAR the wonders of God – they could SEE and feel THE WONDERS OF God.
Again – it’s not what they said – but how they said it.
They were able to speak a message directly to the hearts of these people – I mean – it MUST have been touching if 3000 of them handed their lives over to Christ that day. That doesn’t just HAPPEN. No – God had prepared for this day… Jesus had spent 40 days with the Apostles after the Resurrection – he HAD to be teaching them and preparing them for this very mission - preparing them for THIS day. But the people in the temple that day – they ALSO had to be prepared. They came to the temple EXPECTING God to act – totally open to allowing God to change them.
Think about yourself – how many of US come to church EXPECTING something amazing and life-changing to happen when we get here? If we’re honest – we kind-of expect the same thing to happen each week… that doesn’t take away from the miracle of the Eucharist – but it does point to that fact that we – or I can at least speak for myself – I don’t really EXPECT God to perform any miracles when I come to Church. Do you?
But if we really want to see miracles – if we really want to see the Lord at work and let it change our lives, we have to ANTICIPATE it. We have to be OPEN to allowing the Spirit to take over.
St. Bonaventure said the Holy Spirit comes where He is Loved, where His is invited, and where He is EXPECTED. That’s worth repeating…
What did Jesus say would happen when we receive the Holy Spirit? He said, “you will receive power”! YOU will receive power! Did you get power yet? Do you see anybody around you that HAS that power yet? He also said, “whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these”… You and I are supposed to have power to do what Jesus did – and even greater. So let me get a show of hands… how many people here have raised anybody from the dead? How many have healed a blind man by smearing mud on his eyes? Fed 5000 from just a couple of fish? Anybody turned water into wine without grapes?
Hmmm… we’re not doing too good, are we? Something’s missing… but what? Why AREN’T you and I doing the same deeds and greater? I propose to you it’s because we don’t EXPECT it – we don’t ANTICIPATE it. Again, we get into kind of a comfort-zone in our religion and don’t really even TRY to harness that power that Jesus gave us… why?
I have an example – Let’s pretend that I’m giving you this as a gift… what do you say? (thank you) Your mother taught you well. Let me ask you – are you excited about this gift? Why aren’t you excited? – because you don’t know what it is, right? How can you be excited about a gift if you don’t know what it is or how to use it. I’ll tell you what’s in there- It’s a power-pack – it’s capable of jump-starting your vehicle a bunch of times … you could charge your phone many-many times…. there is a LOT of power in this little box – really! So – now are you excited yet? Maybe a little more – but you still haven’t SEEN the power. You still don’t know how to plug it in.
Kind of like when Jesus explained that the disciples would be given power to do great deeds, that might have mildly excited the apostles – but what difference did that make? They didn’t know what it was – nor how to plug into it. I mean – look - The Apostles received the Holy Spirit in the Gospel today – that was Easter evening. When was Easter evening…do the calculation…?? – 50 days ago! What happened in those 50 days since they received the HS? Not much… I mean they huddled together in the upper room for much of that time – scared – praying. It’s like they had a power pack, but didn’t know how to use it.
Until TODAY – It’s like Peter picked it up and thought – hmmm – I wonder what happens if I plug this thing in… and WOW! A noise like a violent, rushing wind – fire came from heaven – their hearts were set ablaze and they were propelled out into the streets to proclaim the good news to the world. Again, it’s not WHAT they said, but how they said it. They were ON-FIRE! Why – because they had plugged- in to the Holy Spirit. Remember – they had the HS for 50 days already but until they plugged in, it made no difference.
Reminds me of our own Sacramental life… we all receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism – yet we don’t know what it is – or how to use it. The Spirit DOES make a difference in our lives because He guides us in prayer and Sacraments. It’s only by the Spirit that we can believe in Jesus at ALL – that’s what Paul reminded us in the 2nd reading. So the Spirit has a way of helping/influencing us – but you and I are still NOT doing the greater deeds like Jesus. What’s missing?
We need to plug in. How do we do that practically? I’ll give you an example: about 6 weeks ago, I had a vision while praying – OK – don’t get excited – it wasn’t like a Biblical vision – just a thought that crossed my mind. I saw our parish gathered for Pentecost Sunday, on one of the first weeks after the quarantine – and I saw us singing this song, King of Kings, and the whole congregation standing up to sing just like we did before Mass.
Now – where did that vision come from? Was it the Spirit? Or just me having wishful dreams? At the time, we didn’t KNOW when we would get to come back to Mass. At the time, I didn’t KNOW I would be preaching this weekend – I hadn’t looked that far ahead! When I saw the ‘coincidences’ stacking up, I figured this must be a vision from the Spirit… so I called Emily and Ayane and asked them to help me make it happen – to fulfill the vision. Why, because I think the Spirit wanted Instead of me just TALKING about the Spirit – He wants everyone to have an EXPERIENCE of the Spirit. Hopefully as we all stood up, maybe you felt a chill go down your spine – that’s just a HINT of the presence of the Spirit.
It may not sound like a big deal – but that’s the point – you and I, I think, get these kind of visions and promptings from the HS all the time, but we usually just ignore them… brush them off. To plug in, we need to start listening/watching/ANTICIPATING.
Another example, I was driving to town one day and a parishioner crossed my mind. That happens all the time – but this time I thought – hmmm.. wonder why that person came to mind right now? So I asked the Holy Spirit – do you have a message for this lady? I felt compelled to stop by to talk to her – but she wasn’t there – so I sent her an email with what I felt God wanted to tell her. She emailed back explaining she was in tears because she’d had a particularly stressful week, and THAT message was exactly what she needed to hear that day! This led to a great 2-3 hour conversation.
Why do I tell you that? Not to build me up – but just to show you that we all get these simple promptings – and if we open ourselves up to them, God can do amazing things for the people around us! You can tell by my voice that this not only made her day, but it set my own heart on fire.
I think it’s time we all start LOOKING for God to act – ANTICIPATING the HS to work miracles – EXPECTING God to reveal His presence to the world THROUGH US. God doesn’t NEED us to work miracles –but He chooses to use the Body of Christ – the Church – to touch His people.
All we gotta do… is plug in…. and then EXPECT something BIG to happen.