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Bishop's Homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost

May 19, 2024

[St. John Vianney Church, Kailua (Confirmation & First Communion); St. Ann Church, Kaneohe (Confirmation & First Communion); Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Pearl City (Confirmation & First Communion)]

What has gotten into him?

This is a question we ask when someone is behaving out of character.  If a very shy person is all of a sudden talking up a storm, or a very talkative person is very quiet, we might ask this question:  What has gotten into her?  If someone who is not very good a sports all of a sudden makes a brilliant play, or if someone who is a sports star does very poorly, we might ask, “What has gotten into him?”

We see this happening in the Apostles.  First, they are locked away in a room for fear after Jesus had been crucified.  But when he appears to them alive, and breathes the Holy Spirit into them, it is like they are set on fire with courage, and people ask, “What has gotten into them?”  “How is it that we, who are from many different parts of the world and speak many different languages, can understand all they are saying in our very own language?”

We sometimes hear of people being possessed by the devil, who causes them to do bizarre and very bad things.  But we do not have to be afraid of that, because the risen Jesus, who is here with us right here and now, is going to mark and seal you who are to be confirmed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  If you truly understand this gift, you will be possessed by the Holy Spirit, who will cause you to do great things for the glory of God and the good of others.  People may look at you and ask:  What has gotten into him or her that now there is so much joy, even when things seem to be going the wrong way.  It is the Holy Spirit that has gotten into you to enable you to do amazing things for others you never thought you could do.

I recall many times when I was hearing confessions, I would say something to someone, and the person would be shocked and say to me, “That’s exactly what I need to hear!”  When I look back, I wonder, “Where did THAT come from?  It did not come from me!”  It was the Holy Spirit working through that wonderful sacrament that “got into me.”

But this gift of God will live in you forever!  You just need to remember that the Holy Spirit is in you to give you wisdom, understanding, courage, and so many other wonderful gifts.  From this day forward, you will be possessed by the Holy Spirit, which is always a wonderful thing!

But, it gets even better!  The same risen Jesus who appeared to his disciples after the resurrection and sent them out on his mission of forgiveness and reconciliation, is the Jesus who will be physically present here in this church today, as he is every time we celebrate Mass.  When we take the bread and wine, bless them, break them, and give them to you, what happened at the Last Supper happens right here.  Jesus gives us himself by becoming physically present, body and blood, soul and divinity.  But it gets even better than that!  Jesus will not only stay on the altar or be placed in the tabernacle; he will enter you, coming into the most holy and intimate communion with you!  If you are aware of this great gift, you will act differently, and people will say, “What has gotten into this person?”  You will know WHO has gotten into you:  Jesus, who loves you more than you can possibly imagine!  Because Jesus is in you, you may learn to speak different languages:  little kid language and old people language, the language of joy and the language of hope.  And everyone will be able to understand because of the Person who is in you.  Jesus does not want to stay in this church.  He wants to live in your home and with your family.  He can now do that, because he is in you!  He wants to go to your school, visit your sports team or your dance class, or even to go to the beach, and he will be able to do so because he is in you!  If you are aware of his presence and thank him for it, he can give you a joy that is contagious, and a love that will surprise even you!  People will ask, “What has gotten into this person?”  And you can joyfully respond, “The Holy Spirit has gotten into me!  Jesus has gotten into me!”  And you will be shocked at what you can accomplish with this holy presence within you!