Pentecost…the rest of the story

Birthdays are usually surrounded and celebrated with parties, balloons, presents, and of course cake. Pentecost is traditionally referred to as the “birthday of the Church.” Yet so far no one has concocted any Pentecost cards, parties, gifts, nor even a special holiday off from work…not yet! If all of these trappings are absent, then maybe we can totally focus on its true meaning, that God has blessed us with His Holy Spirit so that we can continue the mission of Jesus.
One image that the scriptures has used to describe the imparting of the Holy Spirt is that of flames of fire that descended upon the Apostles. Fire has many capacities and many forms. It can be used to guide our ways, cook our food, warm us when we are cold, burn up our debris, and many other uses. This image of fire can also be applied to various aspects of our spiritual lives. It can be the guide that keeps us on the path to following Jesus and His church. Then it can be instrumental in warming the hearts of those who may have become cold or filled with indifference. As a cleansing agent it can assist us in ridding ourselves of memories, feelings or thoughts that may hamper our relationship with God. In this way it can make space for more of God’s presence in our lives.
This Pentecost Sunday is a special one for the youth of our parish. Some 79 of our boys and girls will be “sealed with the Holy Spirit” through the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is the hope of the Church that what they receive will be enough to generate a commitment to the church that will last them their entire lives. What is celebrated by the sign of the cross with the Holy Oil is internally realized as a ‘spiriting’ of them individually, a giving of Divine Energy. May what they receive, set them on fire for the Lord.