Homily Holy Trinity Parish Pentecost Sunday May 24, 2015

Posted in Called, Christianity, church events, homily, inspirational, pentecost, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on May 24, 2015

Homily for May 24, 2015 Pentecost Sunday

Posted in Called, christian, church events, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on May 20, 2015

pemtecost1In the news lately, we hear of multiple tornadoes touching down out west and wreaking havoc all over. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced one, but imagine the devastation that one can do as I am sure you’ve seen in pictures. Getting back to Jerusalem on that Pentecost morning, there was a loud rush of wind that surrounded where the disciples were and in the busy crowed city everybody came to see what was happening. Inside was even more dramatic as fire appeared voe the apostles and disciples as the Holy Spirit came upon them. Imagine, they were so immersed, so overcome they actually pentecost2couldn’t stand still. They burst out the door proclaiming, witnessing, all in different languages proclaiming Jesus to all in their own language. What a scene it must have been, all the different languages, people from different places hearing the word, the beginning of the church, a multilingual, multinational beginning. That beginning was Christocentric and remains so today. Clearly from Pentecost on, the church belonged to all who received and believed in the Spirit. The body of Christ has many parts and belongs to all, not one nation, not one language, but where Christ and his spirit breathe life into it. Each and everyone of us are servants of each other. It is in serving and loving one another that we fulfill the work of Christ.

The Holy Spirit is Christ’s special gift to the church, who comes to each and every one of us at Baptism and completely immerses in us at confirmation. Sure, we have Christ with us and have his body and blood, but the spirit activates us to do the work of our faith. What is often forgotten is that the Spirit is the one who act and acts where He wants, not where we necessarily want or expect him to. How often in our pentecost 3human condition, do we forget or not even know or understand the whole picture of creation and God;s relationship to us. Just for example, the idea of forgiveness is difficult and unreasonable to many until it is for themselves.

Pentecost began a journey for a new church and many believers. Our oneness is in Christ who recognizes all who gather in his name whether we do or not. Division and separation and infighting come out of humanity’s imperfection. Despite that imperfection, Christ calls and recognizes each of us and with the help of the Spirit brings us to Him.


Homily for the Feast of the Pentecost, Year B 2015 (May 24)

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, homily, inspirational, religion by Fr. Ron Stephens on May 17, 2015

Homily for the Feast of the Pentecost, Year B 2015 (May 24)

Last week I spoke about the promises that Jesus made before he left the Apostles and ascended. Those promises were all centre around the coming of the Spirit, a free gift of God to those faithful to Jesus, which would allow them to experience and continue to experience Jesus in their lives.

In Acts today the coming of the Spirit is imaged by violent wind and the appearance of tongues of fire resting on each person. Whether that is a literal image or the best description they could come up with for what had happened, the important thing to note is that it had an affect. It changed the Apostles. The first major change that came about was the ability to speak or be understood in many different languages. It is not made clear whether they actually spoke those languages or the hearts just heard everything in their own languages.

The concept of the spirit of God had been in Jewish writings and beliefs for many years. We read in the Psalm today: “when you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.” If you remember back to Genesis it was the breath or spirit of God that originally blew over and created the earth. The Jews looked forward to a renewal of that original creation.

The coming of the Holy Spirit took place on a Jewish holiday – the Feast of Shavuat or in Greek Pentecost, fifty days after Passover. It came to be associated with the giving of the Torah, the Law, to Moses. On that feast God put his spirit into the two tablets of the Law for his people to follow. Now, at the Christian Pentecost, the Spirit comes into their hearts. There are comparisons with both comings. There was a theophany, or visible manifestation of God at Sinai and in the house at Pentecost. Both had fire – one in the form of a burning bush seen by all, the other as tongues of fire given individually. There were many people – non Jews present after both events, and both were accompanied by many tongues or voices. (See Stern, David H.  Jewish New Testament Commentary, p.221). Another word for Torah is teaching and the Holy Spirit was sent also to teach. If Shavuat is considered the birth of Judaism, Pentecost is often considered the birth of Christianity.

The Gospel reading today, however, gives a different interpretation of the coming of the Holy Spirit by having Jesus breathe on the apostles and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Most scholars consider this not the Pentecost experience but Jesus preparing them for that experience. John’s Gospel is often different from he Synoptics because his purposes are more theological, coming longer after the others. The purpose here seems to be one of preparation for the power that they were to receive. John does not concern himself with what happens to the Apostles as much as follow what happened to Christ. So he does not include Pentecost but ends with Jesus talking about coming again.

St. Paul today also expounds about the Spirit. He says that without the Spirit, none of us would be able to believe in Jesus. We see the early signs of our understanding of the Trinity also in Paul today. He talks about the Spirit giving many and various gifts, the many and various services we do in Christ’s name, and the activities we carry out in God’s name. But it is one God activating everything. If we are one body in Christ, the Spirit is our life blood coursing through that body to give life and strength to all the limbs.

So the importance of Pentecost for us today is more than just a birthday; it should be a reminder of our unity through the Trinity and through the workings of the Three Persons in One. Being part of that one body, we should not distinguish any member or part of that body being better than any other member. That is why Paul ends with “we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greek, slaves or free. Arguments about priests being better than lay people, men better than women, rich better than poor, different better than same – should have no place in a Christian’s heart. The Spirit unifies us all. And though we may play different parts, just as the function of the heart is different from that of the right arm, we all work together for the wholeness of the body, and we celebrate the health of each part, since it all affects us in some way.

This way of thinking is a different paradigm than we have in modern society. Can we bring our Christian paradigm to the forefront of our own lives, and convince others by our love and care to do the same. That is the challenge of Christians today, and it all began at Pentecost – the Good News that we celebrate at the end of our Easter season.

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A and Cycle B of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, from for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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Holy Trinity’s Pentecost-First Communion Homily June 8, 2014

Homily June 8, 2014 Pentecost Sunday

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, church events, inspirational, religion, Resurrection, Spirit by Fr Joe R on June 5, 2014

pentacost4Today is Pentecost Sunday, the end of the Lenten-Easter cycle. While it is a separate event, it is the completion of Jesus’ resurrection, ascension and the giving of His Spirit for the future life and the mission he has given his followers. This Spirit is special for it is the love that is between the Father and Son and is the third person of the Trinity. This Spirit is freely given to each and every follower of Jesus when they are baptized. The Spirit has and gives many gifts in supporting each of us and continuing the church. The most important thing to remember is that the Spirit is a gift flowing from baptism and has at its core the love of Christ and the forgiveness of sin and evil and all its allurements and consequences. As it draws us into the body of Christ, it becomes one with us in our own body and spirit and fills us with love in accord with our own capability and power. At the same time its gifts are bestowed upon us in ways that are unique and special to us and for the good of the church, the body of Christ. pentacost2Looking at the gospel and History, we see different manifestations of the Spirit and the way different followers are called to carry out the call to bring Christ’s message and love to others, but really no two people have identical gifts. The person truly answering Christ’s call and using the gifts of the Spirit must truly be marked and living by Christ’s love and sharing love and the forgiveness and refraining from judging as Christ in his own time refrained, seeing only that one was ready to love and receive forgiveness and live the good news.

The Spirit’s gifts as I said are unique and adapted as God sees fit for you and his church. The gift of tongues or healing are not things we see in the ordinary course of things, yet the Spirit still works in and about the world today in its own way. Physical healing certainly happens but more importantly spiritual healing and the finding of love and community and God’s love is a gift that is really most important of all. After all is said, being Christ like is so important. Loving suggestions and instructions are certainly more helpful than condemnations in sharing Christ’s love. Jesus only lost his temper and condemned when it was a question of abusing his Father or his Father’s temple or abusing God’s people such as the Scribes and Pharisees did for their own gain. This too can be a warning to temper our actions that what we do is truly for the good of all and is for God and not a personal act or obsession. Nothing can be worse than a false use or abuse of what we think is the gift or call of the Spirit. The Spirit’s gifts are like a leaven implanted within us. When yeast is mixed with dough you can’t find it but it ferments the dough and makes it rise. So it is with the Spirit.

pentecost_3Regardless of human fault Christ and his Spirit remains among us even now. The twists and turns of history certainly exhibit the failings of humanity and the evil that can present itself. Yet the Spirit brings hope, brings life, and breathes. He is with us now, he is with us always. The Spirit has kept alive Christ’s ministry and call to preach the good news. The Spirit is active and calling us now to be true followers and step forward in whatever way we can be most forceful in being Christ to others. Today the Spirit brings us together to worship and witness, to be a light, a force to show and bring Christ’s love. This never changes, only how we do it, how we adapt and how we remain selfless and in God’s love.


Homily May 19, 2013 Pentecost Sunday

Posted in christian, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on May 17, 2013

As we sit in our new church facility on some Sunday mornings, a blowing wind will surround the building with a low whistle-like sound rolling over the interior. The Holy Spirit? I think not. What the apostles heard was a driving loud wind from above that filled the house and drew a large crowd to see what happened. Much like a neighborhood today peeking out or running to see anything strange or unusual in the neighborhood or like the people who slow up to stare at mishaps on the highway. As a crowd gathered on that first century morning, the Holy Spirit filled that house and filled each of the inhabitants in a unique and in similar ways. Suddenly, these men were understood in many languages and each was given gifts for the good of the Church to enable the proclamation of Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus promised His Spirit came and kept his message alive and continues it today. The gifts his Spirit brought were for all. Each and every believer in his or her faith has the Spirit and shares in proclaiming Christ. While certainly the Apostles and leaders of the church have a charism or gift of leadership, but that gift includes the discernment of the Spirit requiring many and varied things from them and their fellow believers. As the Spirit filled and invigorated all Jesus’ followers that day, so it fills us all today to go out and spread His word. His teaching is not in a box or in some secret club. It is for all who will listen and believe.

The Gospel today reminds us also that Jesus in giving His Spirit to the Apostles gave them the gift to forgive sins. Think of that for a moment. The power to forgive your sins. How many times in the Gospel did we hear Jesus say “your sins are forgiven?” A power Jesus used Himself. No matter how much we fail and sin we can be forgiven. Each time we celebrate Eucharist together, our sins are absolved as we begin if we dispose ourselves to receive this absolution. From Jesus himself the church through its ministers forgives your sins.

Pentecost, the coming of the Spirit, began a new age in salvation, The age of the church. We have Christ’s Word, His Sacraments. His Spirit who will be with us always.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on May 31, 2009

Gospel reading of the day:

John 15:26-27; 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Happy Pentecost! The Holy Spirit is our Counselor, our Guide, and our Peace: come, let us embrace her. Let us ask her for her good counsel. Let us plead for her to give us wisdom. Let us fall down and worship the Holy Spirit of God.

Happy Pentecost when the Seven-Fold Spirit rains down upon us!

Spirit derives from the Latin word spiritus, a word that can mean breath. Holy Spirit of God, animate us! Enliven us!

Spirit derives from the Latin word spiritus, a word that can mean wind. Holy Spirit, refresh us like a gentle breeze that comes on us by surprise on a hot day!

O bright and true Spirit of God, who loves us into existence, make our relationships with one another and God full of light and faithfulness!

Come, Holy Spirit, Creator blessed!

Spiritual reading: The Spirit comes gently and makes himself known by his fragrance. He is not felt as a burden, for he is light, very light. Rays of light and knowledge stream before him as he approaches.

The Spirit comes with the tenderness of a true friend and protector to save, to heal, to teach, to counsel, to strengthen, to console. The Spirit comes to enlighten the mind first of the one who receives him, and then, through him, the minds of others as well. (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)

Pastoral letter from the CACINA bishops

Posted in Christianity, ecclesiology by cacina on May 29, 2009


Wherefore, if Holy Scripture proclaims that God is love, and that love is of God, and works this in us that we abide in God and He in us, and that hereby we know this, because He has given us of His Spirit, then the Spirit Himself is God, who is love.

Peace! Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 On Pentecost we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit with her seven-fold gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (or courage), knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. These gifts come to us with an invitation to prayerfully continue the discernment process we began at this year’s General Assembly. The gifts come to us with an invitation to life and challenges us, like the members of the early Church, to say yes to all God has in store for us. This Spirit of God comes to us with the surging power of love, which has the power to disorient us and shake us out of our complacency.

St Augustine reminds us that it is this unceasing love at the heart of the Trinity that descends on us at Pentecost and imbues us with this same love which unites the Trinity, and has the power to unite us a Church in our witness to the world of this ancient message of God’s all inclusive love.

At our recent General Assembly the Holy Spirit moved us to renew our commitment to proclaim to the whole world that God’s love is non-discriminatory, that we of CACINA are inspired by the Holy Spirit, in this time and place, to proclaim a message of peace and welcome home to people who are searching for an authentic Catholic expression of faith.

We are moved by the Holy Spirit at this Pentecost, with faith and courage, with understanding and piety, with counsel and knowledge, and with wisdom and fear of the Lord to go out to the whole world with this message of God’s powerful and disorienting love.

At this Pentecost, we of CACINA are:

• inspired to strive to be a holy people and to bring his holiness to fruition in our individual lives and our parish communities;

• called to receive this grace and to share it with all whom we meet;

• challenged, like Peter and John, to proclaim the healing power of the name of Jesus (Acts 3:6), to say to the disinvested, come home, and to the oppressed that there is liberation in CACINA’s expression of our theology; and most importantly,

• commissioned to be living witnesses to the power of God’s love moving in our Church and our lives.

At this Pentecost let us renew or covenant to each other, to our Mission, and to our Church. Let us hold the world and each other in our prayers and ask for the grace of the seven-fold gifts to truly live our anthem: “All are welcome, All are welcome, in this place.”

Given Under Our Seal and Signature
On the Feast of Pentecost, Anno Domini 2009
The College of Bishops of the Catholic Apostolic Church in America.