I was a student at LSU about eight years ago for about two years before I entered the seminary. I don’t know if you still have it but free speech alley where they would allow groups to set up displays and the like. I think about once a week Christ the King would set up a table to promote the center and try and encourage students to come hang out. I would help run the table on occasion and hand out some materials. I remember one time in particular that there was a campus minister, I think from the Chapel on campus or maybe the Baptist church next door, also in the area. We began to have a little conversation, seeing I was with the Catholic table he wanted to challenge me on my faith. He particularly challenged me on the motions and the gestures we do during the mass, suggesting they didn’t mean much. At the moment I couldn’t think of a way to respond, but later I said oh I wish I would have told him about participating with our hearts. If I just had the right words to say at that right moment, maybe I could have evangelized him and helped him come into the Catholic faith.
Today we remember the day that the spirit descended like tounges of fire on the apostles. The spirit gave the apostles the ability to preach to all gathered despite everyone speaking many different languages. They speak of the mighty works of God, and the people hear them in their own language. Immediately after this event, Peter stands up and preaches to the masses gathered around him, and because of his speech, they baptize thousands.
Jesus gave the spirit to his disciples so that they can go out and do his work to make disciples of all nations; Jesus commanded them in the Gospel of St. Matthew. Peter preaching to the masses and baptizing them was his beginning to live out the mission of Christ. If we follow the stories of all the apostles, they would all go out and baptize the multitudes preaching the Gospel everywhere they went, and most of them did so even to their deaths.
The Spirit too calls us to participate in this mission of the Church and to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom. We may think why can’t the Spirit give that gift to me I could do so much good work on our campus! I could bring so many students back to their faith and maybe even convince the fire and brimstone preachers on campus to become Catholic. God calls some to preach and proclaim the faith in that way. While we may not be called in this way, the Holy Spirit is given to all of us to proclaim the Gospel, but it may not necessarily be with words or preaching.
We have a foundational call from God, and he gives us the Holy Spirit to help us live out that call in our lives. A few weekends ago, we heard about this mission from Jesus. He told them, “Love one another as I have loved you.” This is the mission we are called to and asked to live out to try and live out in our daily lives. Proclaiming the Gospel to all nations don’t only have to be by the words we say or the arguments we may try to win in favor of the faith. Instead it is the way that we live our lives and more importantly, how we love another.
God himself loves us and calls us to love him in the same way. The Holy Spirit in Pentecost today shows a great sign of his love. The spirit is poured out upon the apostles, and they receive him to go out and love another. God the Father and the Son too also showed us a great sign of love. Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross for us, and the Father was willing to give his only son for our sake. Are we ready to follow after their example, and lay down our lives for others, put the needs of others before us, so that all of us can have eternal life?
The feast of Pentecost reminds us of many things. First of all, it reminds us that the Spirit was given to the apostles to the Church to go out and to the work of the Lord and to make disciples of all nations. Peter was given a special gift from the Lord to proclaim Jesus crucified and risen again, and through his preaching bringing thousands of newly baptized members into the Church.
Pentecost as well celebrates the day the Church was founded by Jesus Christ and through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate the birthday of our Church, the day the apostles began their ministry. What we shouldn’t forget, though is that the central mission of the Church is to love others as Christ has loved us and at the center of that mission of love is bringing others to salvation.
We can all participate in this mission; we don’t have to receive the gift of tounges, we don’t have to be dynamic preachers who capture the attention of the audience to do the mission of the Church. All of us have been called by God to love another and to help in the mission of bringing others to salvation. I hope we can all be open to the Spirit’s promptings in our lives and trust in what he gives us so that we can go out and make disciples of all nations.