St. Dominic Catholic Church

2002 Merton Ave | Los Angeles, CA 90041 | (323) 254-2519


Just Containers or Instruments? Pentecost Fr. Roberto



Homily for Pentecost – Years ABC
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP 
St. Dominic’s Parish, Los Angeles, CA
June 5, 2022
Title: Just a Container or an Instrument?
Theme: Are we just containers of the Holy Spirit within us, or do we allow the Spirit to make us his instruments?
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Romans 8:8-17; John 20:19-23

Hold up manila envelope with $$. I used these images on the envelope
Imagine if I were a very, very generous billionaire, and I handed each of you an envelope like this one with a check inside made out to each of you for ten million dollars. And there were no strings attached; you could do with the money whatever you wanted to do. Wouldn’t that be great? But now, imagine that you took home this envelope with your check and you never opened it. You just stuck it in the bottom of a dresser drawer in your bedroom and you never took the check out to look at it, you never took it to the bank to cash it, you never bought anything with the money or invested it, and you never even gave the money away to someone else to use. You just kept it locked away in your drawer forever. What an incredible waste of all that money, of all the good you could have done with it for yourself, your family, your friends, maybe even for St. Dominic’s, right? So much potential right there at the bottom of that drawer in your house; but it never got used.

Well, guess what. Every one of us here has been given much more than a check for ten million dollars because we have all been given God’s Holy Spirit at our baptism. You and I have been given the same Holy Spirit that was poured out on those 120 disciples on the first Pentecost 2,000 years ago that we just heard about in our first reading; the same Holy Spirit that makes us children of God and makes us heirs of the glory of Jesus the Lord as we heard in our 2nd reading; the same Holy Spirit that Jesus himself breathed upon his apostles in our Gospel today; the same Holy Spirit that St. Paul received when he was baptized after his conversion experience on the road to Damascus; the same Holy Spirit that enabled the first Christians to withstand 10 waves of terrible persecutions during the first three centuries of the  Church and that eventually enabled us Christians to overcome and convert the Roman Empire; the same Holy Spirit that St. Dominic and St. Francis received; the same Holy Spirit that St. Faustina and Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul and Padre Pio and every single one of our Catholic saints have received over the last 2,000 years! The Holy Spirit all these people received is the same one you and I received when we were baptized, and my brothers and sisters, as you can see in their lives, God’s Holy Spirit is power, it is fire, it is passion. God’s Holy Spirit is strength, peace, joy and love.

My question for you is, what are you doing with that amazing gift of the Holy Spirit you received at your baptism that is worth infinitely more than ten million dollars? Are you using God’s Holy Spirit to glorify God in your life? Are you using the Holy Spirit to become the person God created you to be? Are you using the gifts God’s Holy Spirit gave you to serve others and, somehow, to make this crazy world a better place? Or, have you taken God’s Holy Spirit and simply “put it in a drawer” at the bottom of your heart to sit there underused or unused and unappreciated? If that is the case, then, sadly, you are part of a great many Catholics who, as Pope John Paul II said, have only “the capacity to believe placed within them by Baptism, but are still without any explicit personal attachment to Jesus Christ.” In other words, you’ve got lots of potential within you, like those ten million dollars sitting in the drawer, but you have done little or nothing with it; you still don’t have any meaningful relationship with Jesus. And that is a terrible waste!

God’s Holy Spirit will remain only potential power, fire and passion, only potential strength, peace, joy and love within you until you make it yours; until you consciously receive it and use it in your life. Just read the Acts of the Apostles and see how the Holy Spirit changed those cowardly, arrogant, thick-headed and hesitant apostles of Jesus into an unstoppable force of love and faith that eventually overcame the greatest empire the world had ever seen! Just read the lives of the saints to see what amazing things were accomplished, not by them, but by the Holy Spirit working in them and through them in powerful ways! There is no limit to what God’s Holy Spirit can do in you and through you – whatever your age, the condition of your health and the level of your theological preparation or lack of it – if you ask, if you believe, if you allow the Spirit to work in you.

Most of us here were baptized as babies, so we did not really choose to get baptized or understand what was going on. And most of us here also received the Sacrament of Confirmation at some point of our lives. Confirmation, as its name implies, is meant to confirm or strengthen and to unleash the Holy Spirit we received at our Baptism. Our Catholic Church uses very theological and religious language to describe what happens to us when we receive these two powerful sacraments, but let me give you my interpretation of what happens. 

When we are baptized and confirmed I think God says to us: “My child, I have now given you my very life, my Holy Spirit within you. So, use my Spirit; don’t waste it! Therefore, when you are afraid or struggling, let my Spirit give you courage and strength. When you are doubting and unsure, let my Spirit give you guidance and a deeper faith; when you are anxious and stressed, let my Spirit give you peace. When you feel unloved, unappreciated or lonely, let my Spirit give you the love you need. Whatever obstacle and challenge you face in your life, my Spirit can help you. But, my Spirit will also challenge you to let go of your selfishness, ego, laziness, apathy and other evils. My child, open your heart, follow my Spirit’s guidance, and let my Spirit make a difference in your life and in others. Let my Spirit help you to become the person I created you to be.” That is what I think God said to us when we were baptized.

So, once again, my question for each of you is, what are you doing with the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit you received at your Baptism and Confirmation that is worth infinitely more than ten million dollars? To me, when we were baptized, it is as if God gave us an envelope like this – not with $10 million, but with his Holy Spirit [Hold up envelop again with image of the Spirit] and said, here you go; here is my Spirit. So, are you just a passive container of the Holy Spirit, letting the Holy Spirit dwell at the bottom of your heart, underused or unused and unappreciated? Or are you an instrument of the Holy Spirit, letting God’s Spirit fill you up and flow out from you to others?

However you answered those last two questions, I want to give all of you who are here and those of you online, an opportunity to ask and let the Holy Spirit work within you in a stronger way; an opportunity to receive more of the power, fire, passion, strength, peace, joy and love that the Holy Spirit wants you to have. So, for those of you who wish to participate, I would like you to stand in your pews or at home if you are able to do so and to repeat this prayer after me. You may open your hands with your palms facing up and close your eyes if you wish. Please repeat after me:

Holy Spirit of God, thank you for coming to me at my Baptism and Confirmation. Thank you for all the gifts you have given to me in my life. I ask you now to work in me in a deeper way. Give me more of your strength. Give me more of your peace. Give me more of your joy and your love. Help me to use your gifts to serve others. Remove anything from my heart that keeps you from healing me, from guiding me and using me to give glory to God. Come, Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now, remain standing and spend a few moments now to think about what you have just prayed. Trust in these words you have spoken. Trust in God to honor these words you have spoken with faith and sincerity. And trust in the power of the Holy Spirit working in you.