Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pentecost - homily

My mother and father met at a wedding in Southern Maryland many years ago. After the wedding, my Dad went out of his way to introduce himself to my Mom and get to know her better during the course of the evening. As my Dad used to tell the story, he was “interested” in a few different women at the time he met my Mom. Well, shortly after they met, he called all of these women and told them that he couldn’t see them anymore. Wow – I’d say he liked my Mom! She kind of liked him, too…! They fell in love, and my sister, brother, and I are all grateful that they did and that it happened the way it did.

This is the story of how my immediate family began. Today, we celebrate the feast of Pentecost which is when our Catholic family began. We celebrate the event when Christ sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and filled them with courage to proclaim their faith in Him, and many came to believe in Jesus. It is the event that started the Catholic Church. So, now when people ask you when the Catholic Church began – a question you hear a lot at parties, I’m sure! – you can tell them that it started at Pentecost in 33 A.D.

From very early on, Catholics have viewed the Church as a mother who gives us life in Christ. The Church is our Mother who not only gives us supernatural life but also nurtures, forms, and shapes us to be people of faith. One of the earliest sayings about the Church as Mother comes from St. Cyprian: “he cannot have God as father who does not have the Church as mother”.

Our own mothers are such beautiful symbols of the Church as mother. Our mothers have given us life. They not only give us natural life, but they nurture, form, and shape us to be the people we are. Mothering is the most important work in the world! Motherhood is a vocation, and the most significant one there is. We all thank God for our mothers and for all of the sacrifices they have made to bring us into the world. We thank God for all our mothers – the Church, the Blessed Mother, and our own mothers. Through our mothers, we are given the gifts of life and eternal life.

In today’s Gospel which is John’s account of Pentecost, Christ breathes on the Apostles, giving them the Spirit. Christ breathes the Spirit of life on them. It is the same Spirit of life that brings us into the world through our mothers. It is the same Spirit of life that brings us into the faith through Mother Church. It is also the Spirit of peace. Christ intends us to have real life and real peace. One of the main reasons he gives the Apostles the power to forgive sins is so that we might have real life and real peace through the Spirit. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is necessary for real life and real peace through the Spirit.

Finally, we come to this Eucharist to give thanks to God for all the blessings He has given us, especially our mothers. We give thanks for our own mothers through whom we have received life on Earth. We give thanks for Mother Church through whom we receive eternal life. May the Spirit help us to appreciate our mothers who have given their lives so that we might have life.


At 4:39 PM, Blogger fran said...

This is from an interview, with Denzel Washington, I read a while ago:

"I walked in the house one day and - feeling full of myself, a movie star - I said to my mother, "Did you ever think this was all going to happen?" She was like, "Please. First of all, go wash the windows for me. You have no idea how many people have been praying for you when you were being a knucklehead."

So, to my own mom and all of the others who have, and continue to pray for me, even when I am a knucklehead - Thank you!

At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thankful for my mother choosing life. Today 4,000 mothers did not make that choice. I have found to be the best pro-life information site out there. I highly suggest everyone check it out.


At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking of families; from a Mom’s perspective, with some humor added, here’s a typical family story:

I’ve been blessed with children and with that blessing I’ve learned to accept that they will always be one step ahead of me, no matter how hard I try.

Each Mother’s day, I glance towards the sky and give thanks to God for my children and the abundance of blessings in my life. I’m especially thankful when another family member has learned the wonderful task of doing laundry. It’s a painful process to teach and watch “unfold”, sometimes literally, but children eventually figure it out.

Two of my kids were hanging around the kitchen, foraging for food, and my oldest boy started complaining about doing his laundry. As usual, they got “the speech”, as they call it. I explained that if you really dislike doing something, and you can earn more money than it costs to pay someone to do it for you, you might be happier and more productive doing what you enjoy and are good at and then pay someone to do your detested chore. Somewhere in there was also the concept of saving money, for yourself and others. When I heard the two of them negotiating the price of washing, drying and folding a load of laundry, I suspected they understood my “survival speech”.

I carried on in the kitchen and thought nothing of my daughter taking the salad tongs and walking away with them. Little did I know; salad tongs are not only good for grabbing food, they are also very useful when sorting your brother’s white and dark clothes before washing them!

“May we thank God for all our mothers - the Church, the Blessed Mother and our own mothers.” May we treasure our vocation, memories and the gift of eternal life and love, that which we receive and that which we give.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Cor 13: 4-7).

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a group of boys in my car the other night. My dad played baseball and was pretty good. He played for Maryland and in the farm leagues in Cincinnati (even pitched a few games for the Reds), which is a VERY BIG DEAL to my sons. My youngest son thinks he’s the one who’s inherited “the gene,” and at his most recent game (rookie league- btw), he was at bat and completely split his Louisville Slugger- nearly knocking out the pitcher. So, needless to say, anytime there’s a group of his peers around- bragging rights are his (‘til the next kid does the next thing). Anyway, my son was saying that he was going to be a big baseball star and take care of me for the rest of my life; I'd never have to do any kind of work ever again! I laughed- said, "Thanks for the offer, but by then you'll have your own family to take care of, and you'll probably put my in an old age home!" I had five other boys with me in the car, and three (3!!) chimed in saying, "My mom says the same thing!" So ladies, maybe if we play are cards right we’ll all end up in the same place together! With another (XXth) birthday rounding the corner and I guess I should start practicing my canasta!


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