Pastor Message - June 9, 201908/24/2019
“When the disciples had gathered together, they asked Jesus, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He answered them, ‘It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight” (Acts 1:69).
No doubt we’ve all had the unpleasant experience of having our electricity go out. Maybe it was only for a few minutes, maybe for several hours. I remember one power outage here at St. Boniface a few years ago that lasted a whole day and night in the middle of winter; I slept with a few extra layers of clothes and a couple extra blankets on the bed that night. Regardless of the length of time, when the power goes out, we become helpless. We have no light. We have no heat. We have no water. Sure, we can light few candles, and, if we’re smart, maybe we stocked up on some bottled water. But, for all intents and purposes, if we don’t have power, we can’t do anything.
This weekend, on the feast of Pentecost, we celebrate our power source as a Church the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, we can’t do anything. The Spirit empowers and makes possible every ministry in the Church, and, without it, we could never carry out our mission of witnessing to Christ in the world. The Spirit guides us and leads us and keeps us connected to God, who is one, fulfilling Christ’s promise to be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
We encounter the Spirit in many ways, but in a very special way through our celebration of the sacraments. The Spirit is at work in every sacrament, and we call on the Spirit through prayers and gestures in every celebration of the sacraments. We first receive the Spirit through baptism, and we symbolize that encounter by anointing the newly baptized with sacred chrism. We anoint those who are confirmed with chrism as well and lay hands on them, an ancient gesture of imparting the Holy Spirit. We lay hands on and anoint those who are ordained through the sacrament of holy orders, and we lay hands on an anoint with the oil of the infirm those who are sick. We lay hands on those celebrating the sacrament of penance and reconciliation as the priest prays the prayers of absolution, and also on the bride and groom during the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony during the nuptial blessing. And it is the Holy Spirit who makes the Eucharist possible when the priest extends his hands over the gifts and prays the prayer known as the epiclesis.
As part of our year of prayer, we will reflect in a special way this month on the sacrament of the Eucharist, but neither that sacrament, nor any other, would be possible without the Holy Spirit. Let us thank God this weekend for such an awesome gift, and may the Spirit continue to guide, lead, and empower us to carry out the mission of the Church here at St. Boniface.
Fr. Marc Stockton