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Pentecost is a Jewish harvest feast. What do you harvest in the month of May? You could harvest flowers. Everything grows well in the spring. You also can harvest wheat. Pentecost means fifty, so fifty days of harvesting means there is a lot of wheat, plenty for everyone. Let’s say you live in the ancient world and you are very poor. Even though you are poor, you still have access to water and some wheat. You mix the two together, put it in the oven, and soon your house smells like a bakery. The wonderful aroma travels through the neighborhood. You may not have waterfront property; you may not have a swimming pool or a boat, but you will have lots of friends because you have something that will draw everyone to you.
When I was young, my grandfather would call and say to me, “Tell your mother and father I am baking bread today.” We all got into the car and made a special trip to see grandpa and nana. You could smell the bread in the driveway getting out of the car. We arrived just as the loaves came out of the oven. The bread was crunchy on the outside and the butter melted on the slice. It was delicious and you could eat almost a loaf.
The feast of Pentecost was a Jewish celebration to thank God for having something that would bring people together. Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost, thanking God for giving us a gift that brings people together, the Holy Spirit. That is why we refer to the feast as the birthday of the Church. What exactly does it mean to receive the Holy Spirit? God’s Spirit allows us to do things that God does for us. God is kind and merciful, rich. We have all the gifts that bring people together.
One cold day in January, Dad called me and said, “Let’s go fishing.” I said, “Good idea.” When we arrived at the river it started snowing sideways. I am a thin person but I had so many clothes on I looked like the Michelin tire man. We fished all morning and, needless to say, we caught nothing. We were about to call it a day when a lone fisherman sees us and approaches. When he reached us he asked, “Any luck?” We said, “No, not a hit.” He said, “Funny, I’ve fished this pool the last few days and I caught nothing here. I think the fish left this stretch of the river and headed up to the next pool. Now, if you go past the bend in the river, just beyond the rapids is a pool. You should do well there.” He told us what to use. After he wished us luck, he left. That evening we stopped in a restaurant to get something to eat. We raised our glasses and Dad made a toast “Here is to a great day of fishing.” I added, “Boy am I glad we bumped into that guy.” Imagine, a guy out of nowhere gives us some information. He made a huge difference to us.
I say this because that is Pentecost is for me. We now have a gift that will make a big difference to others. When we live God’s life of generosity, humility, and kindness, people benefit. This is the feast day when God gives us a gift that brings us together because we make a difference in people’s lives.Back to All Homilies