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Bishop's Homily for Pentecost Sunday

May 28, 2023

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

I have seen many miracles in my life, and I am sure you have too – or will in the future.

I have seen people who were dying, but when others started praying for them, they made a recovery that even astounded their doctors.  I have seen couples in terrible marriages who were always fighting with one another and living in marital misery, have their lives turned around and become the most loving couples, living in marital bliss.  I have seen couples who were expecting a child so worried that raising the child would be such a burden that they considered ending the life of that child even before birth; but someone intervened and they had the child and are so grateful now for the experience of love that they could not have imagined before.  I have seen homeless people find a home because others cared enough about them to help them and worked very hard to make it happen.  These – and many more – are all real miracles!

But how do ordinary people perform such miracles?  Are they gods with powers others do not recognize?  Are they from some other planet and filled secret powers, or were they bitten by a spider that enables them to do super-human things like Spiderman?  No!  They are able to do these miracles because they are filled with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God himself

Today we hear of two instances in which this gift of the Holy Spirit is poured out.  On the night of his resurrection from the dead, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and sends them on a the same mission God the Father had sent him on:  to bring forgiveness, and healing and peace to the world.  Then we hear of the day of Pentecost, in which these frightened and timid disciples of Jesus were literally “blown over” as if by a strong, driving wind and set on fire with the love of God himself.  From Pentecost on, we see the disciples of Jesus performing the same kinds of miracles Jesus himself performed.

That same experience is happening here and now today, when the living risen Jesus will breathe out his Holy Spirit on all of you who are to be confirmed so that he can set you on fire with his love.  And Jesus makes himself physically present to you in the Eucharist, when you are invited and allowed to eat his flesh and drink his blood.

Then you will be given the power to do miracles, not in your own names, but in the name of the risen and living Lord Jesus.  You may be able to help a classmate from failure in school by coaching with the lessons they struggle with.  You may be able to change a bully into someone who respects others when you stand up for others being bullied by treating the bully with respect and love, which will surely disarm him.  You may bring healing to the heart of a classmate or friend who finds life extremely difficult by offering a listening ear and a loving heart.

Like the disciples we heard about at Pentecost, once you receive this gift of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to speak different languages.  Some of you may speak the language of little kids, and know how to lead them closer to Jesus.  Some of you may be able to speak the language of your parents, so that they will no longer just drop you off for religious education, but be engaged themselves in coming to know and love Jesus because of your example.  You can pray for the sick, and speak the language of healing to them.

What happened 2,000 years ago in the Scriptures we heard is happening to you today.  It may not be as dramatic, but the same Holy Spirit will be breathed out upon you in your Confirmation.  The same risen Jesus will be physically present to you in Holy Communion.  And the mission that was entrusted to them will also be entrusted to you, so that through you – as members of the Body of Christ – you can perform many miracles to bring forgiveness, peace, and love to many!