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Bishop's Homily for Pentecost Sunday

May 31, 2020

[Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Honolulu (with celebration of sacraments of initiation for the Elect)]

I have been amazed over the past couple of months how something that cannot even be seen is having a profound effect all over the world, among every people of every language.  It has affected home life, life in the Church, the economy.  Our responses to it have been the source of much controversy, yet no matter what anyone thinks, its power over us cannot be denied.  Of course, I am speaking of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has had an unbelievable effect on our private and public lives.  We are thankful to the Lord that today, on this Pentecost Sunday, we are able to reopen our churches for public Masses, albeit with restrictions, because we must still be careful of this invisible force.

Today we celebrate something else that is invisible but has had a profound effect upon every nation and language in the world for centuries.  It affects our home life, life in the Church, the economy, our private lives and our public lives.  Here I am referring to the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, who is the Love between the Father and the Son poured out upon the world.  That outpouring took a visible form on the day of Pentecost, and though still invisible to us, the power of the Holy Spirit can be clearly seen in the fruits of love that are borne by those who are anointed with the Holy Spirit.

Today we have the privilege of welcoming into the Catholic Church, through the sacraments of initiation, two Elect, who have been preparing for this day for many months.  Under normal circumstances they would have been initiated at the Easter Vigil, but because of the coronavirus, this great event had to be postponed until today, the last day of the Easter season.

As the Holy Spirit enabled the Apostles to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus in the language of so many different people in the world, we will call upon the saints, men and women of every race, nation, and language who were faithful to their initiation, to pray for us as we welcome these Elect into our Church so that they, too, can be numbered among the saints one day.  They will be immersed into God himself, soaked in divinity, when they are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  They will receive the white garment of sainthood so that the Holy Spirit can guide them in keeping it unstained until they reach their final goal in heaven.  They will receive the flame of the Easter candle so that the fire of the Holy Spirit, breathed out by the risen Christ, the Light of the World, may make them shine to bring healing and forgiveness where there is now only the darkness of sin and vengeance.  They will be anointed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, so that they may never be locked up in timidity but may boldly proclaim the love of Christ wherever they go.  And then they will be brought into full communion with the risen Christ as new members of his Body when they receive his Body and Blood for the first time in that Holy Communion of life and love.

That invisible force of the Holy Spirit will become manifest when they live his love in their families, where forgiveness and reconciliation are particularly important.  The Holy Spirit will compel them outward to accept and fulfill the mission of proclaiming the Gospel boldly, not necessarily in sermons, but in the variety of gifts that God has given to each of them, so that the living Body of Christ may grow continually throughout the world, embracing the sick, the poor, those who are abused or neglected by others, and those who wander aimlessly in life until they can be anchored in the Body of Christ through the witness of its members.  Their baptism and anointing will make them priests, prophets and royal governors of the world.  They will continually raise their voices in praise of God when they act justly toward others, even when it goes against the grain; or when they take their place in the greatest act of worship, the Mass, the memorial of the greatest priestly offering in his, the death and resurrection of Jesus.  With the gifts of the Holy Spirit they can prudently raise their prophetic voices in defense of all human life, from the moment of conception to natural death; against the ravages of racism; and in solidarity with the poor and suffering.  Filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, they can govern by participating in processes that make our economy an economy that puts people before profits; that assures the dignity of each person and the dignity of work; and that effectively addresses all things that dehumanize, knowing that God himself has dignified every human person forever by allowing us to share in his divine life.

Never underestimate the power of something we cannot even see!  We have learned that lesson from the coronavirus, but it is a lesson God has wanted to teach us from the beginning of time when he sent forth his Spirit to renew the face of the earth.