This homily was delivered by Father Salvatore Ragusa at the Mass of the Holy Spirit on Sept. 7, 2011.
Over the centuries, there have been many artistic renderings of Luke's description of the scene at Pentecost, which is described in our first reading from the acts of the Apostles.
While the medium, style and forms may differ, 2 elements have remained the same.
There are people...and there is fire.
So let us consider the people...male and female, fisherfolk, a tax collector, one who would deny the Lord three times, brothers who wanted places of prestige - in short they were sinners who became saints.
And let us consider the fire...not a giant ball of fire, nor a circle of fire, but Fire that is "divided in tongues resting on each of them."
So here is the picture painted for us by the words of Luke. The gift of the Spirit comes upon each follower of Jesus and each is given a share of the One Spirit.
The gift that is given, as we heard in the second reading, is the gift that each person needs for themselves and the gift that is needed for the community!
There are many great women and men we honor as holy...sainted... such as Mother Teresa, who in those early days of her ministry did not spend time fundraising for medicine and health care, nor did she form committees and organize protests against the government and its lack of care for its people. No, she was on fire with one simple act...making sure that those dying in the gutters of Calcutta would not die alone. As we know, this spark of the Spirit has grown into a bonfire as thousands of women and men carry on the ministry of Mother Teresa and have indeed gone beyond her first simple act of love to bring health care, food, shelter and love to the suffering all over the world.
Our patron, Saint John Baptist de LaSalle, was a person of position, power and money. But the flame of the Holy Spirit gave him a passion for educating young men who were on a path to death and destruction. Today Christian Brothers and their Lasallian partners bring hope and life to thousands of men and women throughout the world.
Today that same Spirit has been given to each of us...yes all people - people of every race, language and way of life... as we hear in the Eucharistic prayer of the Churchâ - no one is left out.
We are called then to discover the gift that the Spirit has given to each of us. We discern that gift by taking time for silence and prayer, by listening to those we trust, the wisdom figures in our lives, and by reflecting on the signs of the times.
What fire is burning within you? Will you let this spark grow into a bonfire, and bring the Light of God's life and love to a waiting world?
Jesus is on fire with the Spirit and he proclaims his mission:
To bring glad tidings to the poor
To bring freedom to the captives
To bring sight to the blind
To announce a year of the Lord's favor
May the Holy Spirit inspire and lead us today and every day
May we reflect and act on the words of Blessed John Cardinal Newman:
God has created me to do some special service;
God has committed some work to me that has not been committed to another.
I HAVE A MISSION!
Live Jesus in our hearts - FOREVER!