PENTECOST SUNDAY HOMILY
Acts 2: 1-11 + Galatians 5: 16-25 + John 20: 19-23
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: May 23, 2021
The Holy Spirit, being “spirit”, is not visible to the human eye,
but is visible to those who have eyes of faith.
We do not “see” the Holy Spirit, but we do see evidence of the Spirit’s work,
signs of the powerful, life-giving presence of the Holy Spirit.
This is what St. Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit.
When we see someone who is loving or kind, full of joy or peace,
we know the Holy Spirit is moving in their lives.
When we see someone who is patient or faithful, generous or gentle,
or guided by self-control, we can say, “There is a Spirit-filled person.”
By examining more closely the fruit of the Holy Spirit,
we can better understand what it means to be a Pentecost people.
The fruit of the Spirit is love. But not just any kind of love,
rather the love revealed by the Spirit-filled Son of God.
He commands us to love one another as he has loved us (John 15: 12),
by laying down our lives for others,
generously giving of ourselves for the good of the other.
This love sacrifices, is generous and kind and joy-filled.
It’s the kind of loving that is attractive to others and draws their attention:
“Look at those Christians. See how they love one another and others.”
When we make use the Spirit’s gift of piety, which draws us closer to the All-Holy One who is Pure, Absolute Love, we produce more readily this fruit of the Spirit—love.
The fruit of the Spirit is joy.
This joy in the Spirit, this joy spilling forth from the Spirit,
is permanent where happiness is temporary.
When Jesus prays to the Father, he “rejoices in the Holy Spirit” (Lk. 10:21).
Jesus, full of joy springing from wonder, preaches parables rooted
in the awesomeness of life springing up all round him—a sower sowing seeds and the bountiful harvest that results (cf Mk. 4: 1-8; Mt. 13: 1-13) or how the Father provides for the birds of the air and clothes the fields with flowers (cf. Mt. 6: 26-30).
Jesus welcomes children who are bundles of joy,
because of their hearts are filled with wonder.
Moved by the Spirit of joy, we can become like little children
(cf. Mk. 10:15, Matt. 18:3), alive with awe and wonder.
Anytime we unpack this particular gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of awe
and wonder, we are able to marvel at life erupting all round us from the frozen death of winter, we rejoice in frozen hearts now thawed by the mercy of God.
With masks are removed from our faces, we breathe in more easily
the breath of the Risen Lord, the fresh air of the Spirit, and we sing for joy.
Filled with awe and wonder at the many glorious gifts of God,
we can then produce the fruit of the Spirit identified as generosity.
For the Spirit’s gift of awe and wonder produces not only joy
but generosity, which flows from joy and gives birth to even more joy.
Those who are joy-filled are also generous, because these fruits of the Spirit
Jesus notices generosity welling up and out of the widow
who gives all she has to the temple treasury, two small coins (cf. Lk 21: 2-3).
Jesus embodies generosity by the great gift of his body broken for us,
by the magnanimous gift of his blood poured out for us.
Parishioners in their generosity not only break open their bank accounts
to build a new church or to help those who have lost everything to fire
or struggle to make ends meet, but also generously share the gift of their time and talent in a multitude of ways.
The fruit of the Holy Spirit is peace.
“Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you,” says the Lord.
“Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and afraid.” (John 14: 27)
When our world turns upside down and the foundations of life
are shaken, this fruit is a sure sign of the Spirit of God at work.
It blooms forth in the lives of people of faith who persevere in the face of hardship, rejoicing in the gifts of God each day, relishing life in all its richness,wonder and delight.
The Spirit helps us produce this fruit by the gift of knowledge of the ways of God.
For peace flows from us because we know that suffering love leads to glory,
that every trial is a new opportunity to trust in God’s goodness,
that death never ever has the last word.
Another fruit of the Spirit of the All-Merciful God is patience.
Patience as a fruit of the Spirit is not passive, but active. (cf. 1 Cor. 13: 4)
It is what Jesus displays toward his hard-headed disciples,
who do not understand him nor his ways.
Patience as a fruit of the Spirit is rooted in God’s love as seen
in Jesus’ marvelous mercy toward sinners, trusting they will turn back to God.
It is manifested in the many St. Monica’s of this world who faithfully pray for their wayward Augustine’s, trusting that God hears their prayers and will act to save the lost, to bind up the broken, to lift up those who fall.
Patience looks a lot like persevering in hope, which is why the Spirit gives
the gift of fortitude, to strengthen us to keep on keeping on even when things are not going our way, trusting that in the long haul that God’s plan will be victorious,
that life will spring from death.
Connected to the fruit of patience is the fruit of faithfulness,
because faithfulness also springs from the Spirit’s gift of fortitude,
giving strength to persevere in good times and bad, in sickness and in health.
Husband and wife produce this fruit of faithfulness to God and to each other
as they support each other during times of trouble
and rejoice with each other during times of blessing.
Those who suffer through the pain of divorce produce this fruit as they stay close to God and their church community through thick and thin and are resurrected to new life
on the other side of the death of divorce, a life where they learn they can love and be loved again, where they recognize they have gifts to share which bless the lives of others, gifts which flow from God’s faithfulness to them.
This fruit of the Spirit named faithfulness is produced by a people of faith,
who persevere through a pandemic, who endure in trust the shutting down of the Sacramental life of the Church, who then worship in spite of the hindrance of masks and social distance, who say to God who has said to them in Christ—“I am with you always” (cf. Mt. 28:20)—that they are there always for God—to adore and praise and give thanks.
Yes indeed, a fantastic fruit of the Holy Spirit is faithfulness.
Kindness and gentleness are fruits growing from the living water of the Holy Spirit.
Spirit-infused disciples look upon others with a “kind gaze”,
bringing to light the goodness residing in them.
This is the way Jesus looked upon every single person he encountered in his life.
Kindness is a particular way of loving which benefits and helps others
and is ever ready to be of assistance. (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4)
A kind deed done every day transforms the world in which we live.
Kindness fits hand-in-glove with the fruit of gentleness.
Jesus, the Gentle One, fulfils the prophecy of Isaiah, for by the anointing of the Spirit
“a bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench”
(cf Matthew 12: 18, 20; Isaiah 42:1-4), as he gently reaches out to touch with tenderness
those who are hurting and in need of healing.
Jesus, the Gentle One, is the Good Shepherd who carries the wounded sheep
on his shoulders after binding up its wounds.
Jesus, full of the Spirit, reveals the kindness and gentleness of God
by reaching out to those broken by suffering, rejected by the world,
and he wipes away ever tear from their eyes (cf. Revelation 21: 4).
Jesus, full of gentleness and kindness toward his first followers, reaches out
to tenderly touch their feet, to wash them clean, and then tells them to do the same.
The fruit of kindness and gentleness, nourished by the life-giving water of the Spirit, springs forth from using the Spirit’s gift of wisdom.
For those who are wise in the ways of God, know that kindness and gentleness
ultimately win the day, not brute strength and violence.
The 9th fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of self-control.
Jesus reveals this fruit of self-control as Pilate interrogates him, as the soldiers mock him, as the religious leaders scoff at him hanging from the cross.
This fruit becomes evident in the life of one who does not respond to hate with hate,
who holds his or her tongue instead of lashing out.
The gift of the Spirit which produces this fruit in us, if we make use of this gift,
is the great gift of understanding.
Understanding that when another person is hateful toward us
they are most likely responding from a place of deep woundedness,
helps us to control our response to them.
The fruit of the spirit is:
Love, joy, and generosity;
Peace, patience, and faithfulness;
Kindness and gentleness and self-control.
Making full use of the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit helps us produce
these nine fruits of the Spirit, so we may magnify the Lord by our life.
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi