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.