Come Get Me, Holy Spirit 2021-5-23 Fr. Roberto
Homily for Pentecost – Years ABC
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Parish, Los Angeles, CA
May 23, 2021
Title: Come and Get Me, Holy Spirit
Theme: The Holy Spirit wants to help us have an encounter with Jesus that will transform our lives.
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23
As I look back on my life, I can remember a number of experiences that changed my life.
They actually divided my life into a “before” and an “after” because I was different and life was different after I went through those experiences. Sometimes these life-changing experiences were difficult times for me, such as when each of my parents died, or when I had back surgery, or when I parted ways with one of my best friends. At other times, they were joyful experiences, such as when I surrendered my life to Jesus when I was 22 years old, or the day I joined the Dominicans, or the moment I was ordained a priest.
So, can you think of some life-changing experiences that divided your life into a “before” and an “after?” As with me, they might have been experiences of great joy and accomplishment, experiences of great suffering, or experiences of spiritual awakening. I invite you to take a little time now and think back on your life and see how many of those important experiences come to mind. [Give them some time to think]. What all these experiences have in common is that they transformed us by the impact they had on our lives. They truly divided our lives into a “before” and an “after” because we were different and life was different after we went through them.
Now, let me ask you this: Did any of those life-changing experiences you thought of have anything to do with your Catholic faith? More specifically, did any of those life-changing experiences have anything to do with your relationship with Jesus? Because what I really want to ask you today is this: Have you ever been transformed in your life by an encounter you had with Jesus? In other words, has Jesus touched your life in such a way that there is a “before” and an “after” in terms of your relationship with him and how you have lived your life since that encounter with him? How many of you have had that kind of transforming encounter with Jesus – would you please raise your hand?
Now, whether you raised your hand or not, it is important to understand that God works in many different and unique ways in our lives, and they are not always extraordinary and overwhelming conversion experiences; in fact, God most often works in our lives in subtle, ordinary, day-to-day moments, activities and events. However, our Catholic faith, from its very beginning on this day of Pentecost 2,000 years ago, has always been founded on our having a personal and meaningful relationship with Jesus. And that relationship begins with encountering Jesus in some way in our lives where we consciously and purposely say “yes” to him and surrender our lives to him.
This is exactly what Benedict XVI said so powerfully a few years ago when he was the Pope. This is what he said: “Christianity is not a new philosophy or new morality. We are Christians only if we encounter Christ...Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians.” Wow! I don’t know about you, but for me those are some of the most powerful words I have ever heard from a pope: to become a real Christian, you have to encounter the Lord.
So, if you have not yet had some kind of personal encounter with Jesus, I would like you to think about that and ask yourself why not. It does not mean that you are a bad person, and, as I said before, it does not have to be a knock-you-to-the-ground, overwhelming experience.
But it does have to be a moment where you make a conscious and purposeful decision to open your heart to Jesus and surrender your life to him. Now, the key to having this kind of encounter with Jesus is what we celebrate today on this feast of Pentecost: the Holy Spirit.
We see an example of the Holy Spirit’s power in our first reading today, the story of that first Pentecost when our Church was born. As we know from the gospels, the apostles had certainly been impacted by Jesus’ resurrection; however, even after they had seen and experienced the risen Lord on several occasions, they still did not truly understand what the resurrection of Jesus meant for him or for them. And, they were still bound by fear, uncertainty, doubt and perhaps shame for abandoning Jesus on Good Friday and for their other failures. It was not until Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon them, that they became unbound. They became unbound because the Holy Spirit set them free from their fears, uncertainties, doubts and shame and transformed their lives forever. That was a “before” and “after” experience for them and for the whole world because, after Pentecost, the apostles were never the same and neither was the world!
Now the thing is, you and I have received that same Holy Spirit at our Baptism and Confirmation as Catholics. It was not a different Spirit or any less of the Holy Spirit we received in our Baptism and Confirmation than the Spirit that was poured out upon the apostles on that first Pentecost.
It was the same Spirit, the same power, the same gift of God we have all received. But the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit remain dormant within us until we ask and allow the Spirit to work in our lives; we have to ask and allow the Spirit to open our hearts and to bring us to Jesus so that we can be transformed again and again in our lives. It is the Holy Spirit who, as Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel, “will guide us to all truth.” Thus, it is the Holy Spirit who reveals to us the truth of who Jesus really is and what he wants for us.
In other words, it is the Holy Spirit who reveals to us the truth that Jesus is not just another historical figure, a great philosopher, teacher or prophet. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us realize the truth that Jesus does not simply want to be some distant God who pops into our lives now and then on special occasions. It is the Holy Spirit who tells us that Jesus wants to be – and that we need Jesus to be – our Lord and Savior, our best friend, our comforter and guide, our source of strength and peace, our joy, and our greatest love. And, it is the Spirit who also tells us the truth that we have to want Jesus to be all those things for us, and that we have to ask for it, pray for it and open our hearts for it to happen.
So, if you have never done that before, I beg you with all my heart to say yes to the Holy Spirit, to say yes to the Lord, to let Jesus be all that he wants to be for you. And, I dare you to say that prayer I mentioned a few weeks ago in my homily: “Come and get me, Jesus.” I dare you to pray “Come and get me, Holy Spirit.” I dare you to let the Holy Spirit lead you into having a meaningful encounter with Jesus – for the first time or for the hundredth time in your life.
The last thing I want to say is that this transforming encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit is not about becoming a religious fanatic or about being holier or better than anyone else.
It is about discovering the ultimate purpose of your life. It is about finding the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in your life that you long for. Those are the fruits of the Holy Spirit that Paul listed in today’s second reading. If you want them, then open your heart to the Holy Spirit and let him help you come to Jesus and be transformed!
As I have done on other occasions, I would like to finish my homily today by leading you through a prayer. As always, you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. But if you do, please stand up. You can open your hands with your palms up and close your eyes if that helps you focus. Now, please repeat after me:
Lord Jesus, thank you for sending your Spirit upon your disciples at Pentecost and upon me at my Baptism and Confirmation. I come before you now and I ask you to release the power of your Spirit within me.
Come and get me, Jesus. Be my Lord and Savior, be my comforter and guide, be my source of strength and peace, be my joy, and my greatest love. I surrender my life to you.
Come and get me, Holy Spirit. Cleanse me from my sin. Give me the courage to overcome my fears and anxieties. Help me to let go of any resentment, bitterness or anger.
Give me a deeper faith; help me to open my heart to you and let you lead me to Jesus. Amen.
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