"Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth." (Psalm 104:30)
"Bend the stubborn heart and will." (Pentecost Sequence)
Catholics are supposed to be odd. They are supposed to stand out in the crowd. The followers of Jesus Christ must be just that: followers who proclaim that He is Lord in thought, word, and deed. That is the first thing the apostles did upon receiving the Holy Spirit on that first Pentecost morning. They went out and proclaimed Jesus Christ. In talking to a former student the other day, she was telling me about an experience she had with a co-worker who called her a "spiritual" Catholic. Huh? I had never heard of such a thing. A Catholic is a Catholic, but because my former student is a lay woman who goes to daily Mass, prays her rosary, says the Angelus and goes to church more than once a week, we now have to put an adjective to quantify what type of Catholic she is? I personally have never cared for putting adjectives in front of the word "Catholic" like devout Catholic or conservative Catholic or liberal Catholic or marginal Catholic. We are not a political party. We are ONE, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Today we celebrate the Holy Spirit that unites us and makes us one. Yet that story of the "spiritual" catholic label has been with me in prayer over the last two days.
The Spirit is calling you to something deeper this Pentecost Sunday. Being spiritual is almost a prerequisite to being Catholic. We have to be attuned to the promptings of the Spirit. We have to let the Spirit guide us to a deeper life of prayer. Every good thought, word, deed and prayer is prompted by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul tells us in the second reading that no one can say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). So we welcome the outpouring of the Spirit upon us today so that the Spirit may lead us to the truth and to a deeper spiritual life. Except at times we don't want to be lead to something deeper because it requires commitment on our part. During the Pentecost Sequence, we pray to the Spirit: "Bend the stubborn heart and will." We are definitely stubborn when it comes to our spiritual lives. God wants us to go in one direction while we want to go in another. Yet the Spirit still moves us, bends us, molds us, and fashions us into the image of our Lord Jesus. The symbol of fire is present in the first reading when the Spirit came down on the apostles. Fire purifies, takes down the old so that the new may have room to grow. That is why we pray during the responsorial psalm today: "Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth."
This is what we need: renewal! We need to go deeper and go where the Spirit is leading us no matter where our stubborn will wants to take us. Always be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and there is only one way to go deeper and be ever attentive to those promptings: through prayer. So I want to leave you with two questions and then I will pick up where I left off next week because this homily is going to preached in three parts over the next three Sundays. Think about and pray about these questions because on this day the Holy Spirit wants you to go deeper and experience the fullness of what it means to be Catholic:
1) How is your spiritual life?
2) How much time do you dedicate to daily prayer (and how much of that time do you spend it before the Blessed Sacrament)?
(Part 2 next week)