Homily – May 23, 2021

Solemnity of Pentecost
Year B

The word ‘inflate’ means ‘to fill with air’ or ‘to increase by a large amount’. It comes from the Latin ‘inflare’ which literally means to blow into. Inflare, inflate … this is the word St. John uses to describe how Jesus fills the Apostles with the Holy Spirit – He blew into them. The word is translated as “He breathed on them” yet it does not quite adequately describe that which is taking place. For example, take a balloon. If a balloon is not filled with air it remains just a rubber sac. Yet, when it is filled it then reaches the full potential for which it was made. Therefore, Jesus isn’t just greeting them, He is preparing them, empowering them for their mission. They are to live differently now … like a rebirth … Jesus has “filled” them with the gift of His own life in order that He might come to life in them and as such reach the potential for which they were created – for which they were chosen. He sets them up for their mission. And what exactly is that mission? It is a mission of forgiveness – evident in Jesus’ words after He fills them … “whoever sins you forgive are forgiven …” It is a mission of redemption, salvation… a mission that gives that which has been received – the very life of the Savior, the gift of Him in us …

I have always been moved by the writings of Pope St. John Paul II. He was to the fullest extent of the term – an artist. For a period of time between 1950-1966, he wrote many poems which are now collected in a book called The Place Within. One of those poems is titled: A Conversation with Man Begins: The Meaning of Things. In it he writes

“Much of man dies in things, more than remains. Have you tried to embrace what does not die and find for it profile and space?”

“Have you tried to embrace what does not die … “ You see in order for a balloon to be filled with air, the rubber sac must have room for the air … it must be willing to receive that which is necessary to reach its full potential – for that which it was created. The same is true in us … In order for us to discover our mission, to find our purpose, to reach our fullest potential as human beings in this world, we too must be try to embrace what does not die, we must give room for God to “fill” us … we must not look for happiness, meaning and purpose in things that die that cannot fully satisfy but rather in those that ever endure.

It follows then, to make room, space, for God to fill – we must “declutter” our lives, our hearts and souls. We have to identify those things that have become roadblocks and obstacles that allow the grace of God’s Spirit to enter in and give us a renewed joy … we must allow the Church to exercise Her mission – which is a mission of forgiveness. A balloon cannot become a balloon if it is filled with sand … so too we cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit if we are already filled with sins – Confession allows Jesus to breathe – to fill us with the gift of His own life in which He increases in us and we then move toward realizing who we have been created to be … we begin to reflect Him more perfectly in our lives. If at times you feel like an empty rubber sac – like deflated balloon – go to confession and allow Jesus to blow into you the breath of His forgiveness, of new life and renewed joy – that He may increase in you by a large amount.

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There is a beautiful tradition at the North American College – the seminary I attended in Rome. At the end of a seminarian’s time – provided he has...

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