Pentecost — Welcome Back!
Happy Pentecost to all! Today the Church celebrates the memorial of the event in which Christ sends his Holy Spirit onto his disciples. This is the antithesis to Babylon. In Babylon, the peoples in their pride desired to rise to God through the construction of a mighty tower. In the early Church, the faithful disciples desired to rise to God by carrying out his mission of preaching, teaching, and baptizing. At Babylon, God destroyed the tower as a punishment for their insolence. At Pentecost, God “constructs” the Church. At Babylon, the peoples are scattered and given different languages, unable to understand each other. At Pentecost, the peoples are united by the Holy Spirit and given the gift of interpretation, able to understand the various languages. At Babylon, there resulted mass confusion and division. At Pentecost, through the Holy Spirit and his gifts, there resulted unity through the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
This day brings with it the opportunity to give thanks for the Spirit of God which we received in our Baptism and, for most of us, in our Confirmation. In Baptism, we became sharers of the divine life of Christ the Priest, the Prophet, and the King. The Holy Spirit in Baptism gave us the power to offer our lives in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (priest), to receive the faith and assent to it (prophet), and to direct/govern our lives according to the truths of the Gospel (king). In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit is bestowed in a special way to make us more fully members of the body of Christ and live as public witnesses to the faith by what we say and do. Poured into our hearts are the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, the gifts which perfect our relationship with God and the fruits to perfect our relationship with our neighbor. A good homework assignment is to find out the date of our Baptism and Confirmation, celebrating the anniversary each year with special prayers of thanksgiving and rededicating ourselves to living faithfully the Christian life.
On a practical note, this day also marks a reinstatement of our obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligations. Those who are vulnerable to serious disease caused by the coronavirus are still generally dispensed. Also, when our own safety/health is at risk or the safety/health of others is at risk from our travel or attendance at Holy Mass, we are not obliged to assist in person. This covers personal sickness which may be contagious and impediments beyond our control (severe weather, reasonable lack of transportation, caring for a sick family member, etc.).
I am very happy that a number of our nursing homes are returning to normal operations which will allow me to return to my weekly visits. While I have been able to visit individual homebound parishioners at their request throughout the pandemic, access to nursing homes and hospitals has been incredibly difficult. I look forward over the coming weeks and months to getting back to my normal visits so that I can visit at least once a month with all of those who are legitimately homebound because of age or health.