May 19, 2024

On this middle Sunday of May, we celebrate the feast of Pentecost – the 50th day of Easter. Pentecost began as a Jewish celebration of the wheat harvest in the late spring. No specific date was set – it took place when the harvest was ready. Gradually it became customary to celebrate the feast 50 days after Passover (the word “pentecost” is Greek for 50th day). Jewish scholars believed that their ancestors arrived at Mount Sinai approximately 50 days after leaving Egypt. It was there that God made his covenant with them: “I will be your God and you will be my people.” Pentecost became a time for the Jewish people to celebrate the covenant that made them God’s chosen people.

“Let us not close our hearts, let us not lose confidence, let us never give up: there are no situations which God cannot change; there is no sin which he cannot forgive if only we open ourselves to him.”

Pope Francis

For the Christian community, Pentecost has two sides. First, we remember that event in history when Jesus fulfilled his promise to send another Advocate – the Holy Spirit – upon the Apostles. This happened several weeks after Easter when the Holy Spirit was sent in the form of a mighty wind and tongues of fire. Today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles tells the story. This is a past event, though. It happened once in history. Just as on a birthday we do not become an infant again, so too this first sending of the Holy Spirit does not happen again.

But there is another side to Pentecost. We also celebrate Jesus’ constant sending of the Holy Spirit to his disciples, beginning actually on Easter night (our Gospel reading) and continuing into our own day. Despite their hiding behind locked doors, he quietly came to them, reconciled them after their desertion on Holy Thursday night, calmed their fears, and “breathed” the Holy Spirit upon them. Pentecost is really an ongoing event and not just past history. We do more than remember something that happened to someone else at another time, but we take part in what is happening for us today.

The Spirit of God is truly alive and at work in our lives today, as we seek to grow as disciples of the Lord Jesus. St. Paul tells us that the fruits of the Spirit are “love, joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity” (Galatians 5:22-23). The presence of these is a sure sign of the presence of the Spirit.

Jesus continues to send his Spirit in our time. Living our lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus is not an easy task. We struggle to make his values and principles a part of our lives more and more each day. And we know that we cannot do this on our own. Fortunately, we have the Spirit to strengthen us in our efforts. Today we ask the Father to send the Spirit upon us in a deeper way than we have ever experienced before. If we ask, God will give us this – and more.

With today’s feast of Pentecost, we mark the end of the Easter Season. Beginning on Monday, we return to the season of Ordinary Time (in the 7th Week), picking up where we left off in February when we began Lent on Ash Wednesday. Throughout the 50-day Easter season, the Easter Candle has had a place of prominence next to the pulpit. That candle, with its sign of fire, was a symbol of the presence of the risen Lord among us, and was burned at every Mass. Now the Easter Candle will be “retired” to the Baptistry and used only for the celebration of baptisms and funerals.

Congratulations to Father Luis Ron who was ordained a priest of our diocese yesterday at St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet. He spoke and shared his vocation story at our parish on Vocation Sunday two years ago. He will be assigned as a Parochial Vicar at St. Mary parish in West Chicago, effective July 1. We promise him the continued support of our prayers as he begins his priestly ministry in our diocese.

This weekend, I have the opportunity to celebrate the Graduation Mass and join in the Commencement Exercises for the St. Francis High School Class of 2024. A number of our parishioners are among the graduates this year. I have served on the Board of Directors at St. Francis for the past nine years. Next Wednesday evening, I will celebrate the Graduation Mass for our St. Isidore Catholic School Class of 2024. Many of our graduates have been with us since preschool. Congratulations to all who are celebrating a graduation this year. We ask God’s continued blessings upon your accomplishments and your future journeys.

Continue to enjoy the beauty of the spring. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.

– Father Jim Murphy