Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Transformation
The fundamental theme of today's liturgy is transformation. The Community of Church came about as a result of the transformation of the Apostles with the confirmation of their faith in Christ when they received the Holy Spirit. And, just as the Church came into being through transformation, so, too, it will only continue by the willingness of its members to be transformed by Christ's teaching and example.

Acts 2: 1-11 The symbolism contained in this description - the noise of the rushing wind, the tongues of fire, and the communicating with those who did not understand the language - tells us of the passionate enthusiasm with which the Apostles accepted their transformation; from a band of frightened and confused people they became zealous Apostles making known the Good News.

1 Cor. 12:3-13 In this passage, Paul emphasises that though there are many ways in which the Holy Spirit works within the Church, every individual gift is given for the benefit of the community. Individuals do not receive special charisma for self-glorification.

John 20: 19-23 Here, Christ commissions the disciples to be witnesses to His word and work - to teach and to heal.

Point 1: Many outpourings of the Spirit are recorded in the early Church. But great emphasis has been placed on the first in which we see the Disciples becoming Apostles. Disciples are those who are learning; Apostles are those who make known. As with other great Christian festivals, our Feast of Pentecost replaced the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, which, in turn, had replaced an ancient agricultural festival celebrating the first fruits of the harvest. The Jewish feast celebrated the covenant of Sinai, Moses receiving the Commandments from God, and was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of the Passover. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, this original agreement between God and His People is renewed with the Apostles and with those who, in successive ages, accept Christ's teaching. Piece by piece, we begin to see the complete plan of salvation unfolding - the impenetrable mystery of the Godhead presented, firstly, in human form in Christ so that our understanding may begin to grow; and then, through the continued presence of the Holy Spirit, we are guided to the "complete truth". This ultimate goal of "complete truth" will only be reached through death. As St. Paul advises us -[1 Cor 13:12] For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.

Point 2: In this observance of Pentecost, we look for a continued growth of the gifts of the Spirit. These gifts can be of the extraordinary variety, so necessary for the Apostles at the beginning - speaking in tongues, prophesying, physical healing, and so on - but rarely genuinely found in today's Church; or they can be the ordinary gifts of the Spirit so absolutely necessary for anyone claiming to be Christian.

They are the gifts that fit in everywhere - in the living room, in the kitchen, at school, at work, on the sports field. We learned of them as we prepared for Confirmation - wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. They are better understood by looking at the fruits of the Spirit as listed by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians, namely, -"love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control". To these we can also add other areas open to transformation - duty done without fuss, the sinner's unshakeable confidence in God's power of forgiveness, and sympathy to those in need.

Conclusion: There may be times when we wonder whether these ideals have any place in today's world. If this is so, may the celebration of this Feast renew our confidence in the fact that God does love us; that through the death and resurrection of Christ, we have been offered the opportunity for salvation; and that through the continued presence of the Holy Spirit, such ideals can become facts.

Scriptural reference: Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow. If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)