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Bishop's Homily for Pentecost Sunday

June 5, 2022

[St. Theresa Church, Kihei (Confirmation & First Holy Communion); St. Anthony Church, Wailuku (Confirmation & First Holy Communion)]

If we go to a game, we expect more from the cheerleaders than (drolly) “Go team, go.”  We expect them to be on fire, because then they fire up the fans, who fire up the players, and the players are more motivated to win the game.

Today you are being the same fire that fell upon the Blessed Mother and the disciples of Jesus that first Pentecost day we heard about.  It was a fire that touched each one of them, but it really changed them.  Before they had been locked away, afraid that what had happened to Jesus by being put to death on the cross could easily happen to them if they did not keep their mouths shut.  But once they were fired up with the Holy Spirit, they went out boldly to proclaim that Jesus had risen from the dead and was still with them with his merciful healing love.  They were so on fire that even when they were persecuted, nothing could put them back in that locked room.  They went and proclaimed the Good News of Jesus everywhere and to everyone and in every language imaginable.

What is happening to you today may not be so dramatic, with strong driving wind and tongues of fire leaping down from heaven.  But the very same Holy Spirit is going to anoint you, seal you, mark you as his own so that you can be on fire with Jesus’ love and so that he can be the oil, the fuel that will keep the fire burning.

God gives you this gift of his Holy Spirit because he wants you to be full members of the Body of the risen Christ, the presence of Jesus in the world today.  And he gives you another gift as well:  the Body and Blood of Christ himself, so that Jesus can live in you, go where you go and continue his saving work through you – through all of us who are in holy communion with him.

Some of you will be fired up to reach out to people who seem depressed or lonely, so that you can let them know that they are beautiful and loved by God.  Some of you may help classmates struggling with their studies, because God has given you many talents in that area, and you can help your classmates learn, too.  Some of you may be called to serve Mass or to visit the sick, or to do chores for a sick person who is unable to do them.  Some of you will share what you have with the poor and the homeless and even maybe help them find the homes and the dignity they need.  This is what happens when we are on fire with the Spirit.  We are able to speak the language of little kids, the language of teenagers, the language of older people; we are able to speak the language of surfers, or dancers or baseball fans.  And when we speak these different languages, we can proclaim the Good News that Jesus is alive and loves everyone in the world.

That seems like a huge task, and you might say, “How can I do any of those things?  I’m just a little kid.  I’m shy.  I am just a very simple person.”  But the Holy Spirit uses all of us and fires us up in different ways, with different gifts, so that the love of God can be proclaimed to all people through us.

But sometimes fire can burn out or grow cold, and we need to continually stoke it and keep the fire going.  That is why it is essential that we come here every Sunday, and more often if we can, to encounter the risen Jesus, to let him feed with his Word, to receive his Body into our bodies, so that no matter how discouraged or cold we may become, he can fire us up again by showing us how much he loves us.  He will then send us out again to set the world on fire with his love!