Pentecost I

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/05/15 at 12:00 AM


  • Since our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven, the Church has been in a period of joyful expectation. In a sense these 9 days between the Ascension and Pentecost are like a mini-Advent as we await the mighty coming of the Holy Spirit.
  • The promise by our Lord Jesus to send us the Holy Spirit is, perhaps, the most important promise ever made to humanity, for upon this promise depends the very livelihood and existence of the Church and the sanctity of each of her members.
  • Today we commemorate the fulfillment of that promise when the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire upon our Lady and the apostles gathered in prayer in the Upper Room.
  • And we who are heirs to the faith of the apostles and members of the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic church, have received this same Spirit, too: first when we were baptized, and then again at our confirmation, which completes our baptism.
  • On the Feast of Ascension I spoke about this divine indwelling, i.e., the fact that through the Sacrament of Baptism, the entire Holy Trinity is brought to dwell within our souls – and remains there in a supernatural way as long as we remain in a state of grace.
  • While we commonly speak only of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within the souls of the baptized, I say the entire Holy Trinity comes to dwell within us because whatever God does outside of Himself is always done equally and simultaneously by all 3 Persons of the Holy Trinity.
  • However, it is to the Holy Spirit that we attribute all works that reflect God’s love and our union with Him. It is for this reason then that we often speak only of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  • As I mentioned, our Lord’s indwelling within the souls of those in sanctifying grace is a special intimacy with God, an intimacy that enables us to know God as He truly is, so that we might love Him as He desires to be loved.
  • This divine indwelling that makes us temples of the Holy Spirit confers upon us a dignity that is beyond our understanding.
  • Whenever we baptize someone, we typically dress them in a white gown or garment of some type as a symbol of this newfound dignity. And yet even the purest and whitest linen is but a clumsy symbol of our baptismal innocence.
  • You see, my brothers and sisters, when our Lord comes into our souls at baptism, our souls are radically and eternally transformed – shaped more into an image of Christ – so that we might be made worthy of the Lord’s promise of eternal life.
  • Supernatural life is breathed into our souls as they are made worthy dwelling places for the Lord of all creation.
  • Indeed, the waters of baptism, by which the Holy Spirit first enters into our souls, have the power to quench the very fires of hell within us and to unleash within us the same living waters our Lord promised to the woman at the well.
  • Not only are we given sanctifying grace – the grace that saves us, not only are all of our sins forgiven, but we are given as well the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, knowledge, counsel, understanding, piety, courage, and fear of the Lord.
  • These gifts enable us to live out our duties as Christians, and they complete and perfect the virtues within us. When we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, which is our own Pentecost, these gifts are increased and strengthened within us.
  • Through confirmation we are rooted more deeply in our divine sonship, we are united more firmly to Christ, our bond with the Church is strengthened, and we are given a special strength of the Holy Spirit to be faithful and courageous witnesses of Christ.
  • Thus, through the grace of confirmation, we are better able to live out the virtues of faith, hope, and charity that we first received at baptism and thereby live up to the demands of our status as Temples of the Holy Spirit.
  • Because we have received the indwelling of the Lord within us through the sacraments, we are called to live a life of faith, believing in God and trusting in Him in every detail of our lives.
  • We are called to live lives of hope as well, keeping our eyes on Heaven – knowing that this world is not our true home, but rather a place of exile.
  • Most importantly, we are called to live lives of charity – lives of love! As a reminder of this, around the Holy Spirit dove affixed to the ceiling of our sanctuary, we painted the words: “Come Holy Spirit, enkindle in us the fire of your love.”
  • I love that, in describing the descent of the Holy Spirit at that first Pentecost, St. Luke uses the imagery of “tongues of fire”, because it’s so apt.
  • To be sure, the fire of the Holy Spirit that we receive through the Sacraments is a refining fire – capable of burning away the dross of our faults and imperfections.
  • In burning away our faults and imperfections, the refining fire of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to love as we should! But this is true only for the souls of those who remain habitually in a state of grace.
  • This is a very important point. As I mentioned on the Feast of the Ascension, whenever we commit a mortal sin, we lose the supernatural presence of our Lord within our souls, and we become displeasing to God.
  • In fact, St. Teresa of Ávila teaches that, “all the good works [a soul] might do while in mortal sin are fruitless for the attainment of glory” (cf. IC, 1st dwelling places, ch. 1).
  • The reason for this is that since the soul is separated from God by the gravity of its sin, its good works do not proceed from God (Who is the One Who makes our virtue virtuous), and therefore cannot be pleasing to Him.
  • Of course, as I mentioned on the Ascension, we can regain our Lord’s supernatural presence in our souls through repentance and the grace of a good confession.
  • But considering the sublime nature our baptismal dignity, and considering the marvelous gift it is that our mighty God is humble enough to dwell within our souls, we should strive to keep our souls clean of all sin – venial or mortal, and to beg pardon for the times we fail.
  • As we celebrate this Pentecost Sunday, let us ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and hearts to anything within us that is displeasing to Him. May the Holy Spirit help us to know our sins and to confess them courageously.
  • May we truly receive Him who transforms us, consoles us, and sanctifies us. And may our souls always be worthy dwelling places for so great a guest.


© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
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