Acts 2:1-11; I Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn 20:19-23
A priest was once asked by a doctor why he preached the existence of the Holy Spirit as the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. The doctor asked: “Do you ever see the Holy Spirit? Do you ever hear the Holy Spirit?” The priest answered, “No”. The doctor continued: “Do you ever taste the Holy Spirit? Do you ever smell the Holy Spirit? To all of these questions, the doctors received a ‘No” answer. But when the doctor asked: “Do you ever feel the Holy Spirit?” The priest replied: “Yes, indeed.” “Well,” said the doctor, “There are four of the five senses against you, Father. So I doubt that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Then it was the turn of the priest to ask. “You are a doctor of medicine,” the priest said. “It is your business to treat pains. Did you ever see, hear, taste or smell a pain?” asked the priest. “No,” answered the doctor. “Did you feel the pain,” followed the priest. “Yes, I did,” said the doctor. “There are four senses against you. Yet you know and I know that there is pain. By the same proof, I know that the Holy Spirit exists,” continued the priest.
For each one of us who are here we do believe that the Holy Spirit exists because we feel His presence in us. Even if we do not see, hear, taste or smell the Holy Spirit, we do believe His existence. it is because “for those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible,”
Beginnings are frequently scary, and endings are often sad. But it is what is in between that is important. It is in the middle that we live. We experience beginnings and endings with heightened emotions. Beginnings are often a mixture of excitement and fear. That’s how I felt when I accepted to be the pastor here at St. Joseph. Will I be able to build this community as a loving family? I am sure you have experienced similar excitement and fear in your life as well. How will I be as a parent? Will I succeed in a new city or a new job? Will I be accepted in a new school? Am I ready for retirement?
Endings are inevitable and often sad. Good-bye to fellow classmates at graduation. Good-bye to co-workers in the office. Farewell to a friend who moves away or to a spouse we lose in death. For me to say good-bye to every one of you now is not easy. We feel beginnings and endings deeply. In those moments, life has our attention. So does our faith. We know that we need God in beginnings and endings. We need God to be present, and we pray for God’s help. God regularly supports us with strength and consolation. In those moments, our faith is focused and clear.
But we need God beyond beginnings and endings. We need God in the middle of life. This is why Jesus’ gift of the Spirit is so important in today’s gospel. For the Spirit is the one who guides us through the middle, in all those moments of low emotion and ordinary living. The Spirit is the one who calls us to live deeply, in all that day to day routine that comprises the majority of our lives.
It is easy to be the best parent we can be on the day of our daughter’s baptism, or on the day of her wedding. But we need the Spirit to be with us when the kids fight over the video games and when we have to help with homework after a tiresome day of work. It is easy to be thankful for our mother on her birthday or on Mothers Day or at her funeral. But we need the Spirit to remind us to call her during the week, to ask “Can I help with that?” and every so often simply to say, “Mom, thanks for everything.”
We remember the beginnings and the endings, but life happens in between. It is there that we invest our time, that we build our relationships, that we become the people we are. So on this feast of Pentecost, we need to open our hearts to God’s Spirit, for God’s Spirit is the one who prompts us to live deeply in all those ordinary moments. God’s Spirit is the one who calls us to live more joyfully, more deeply, more faithfully in all those nondescript days which fill up most of our years.
Now I know that some here this morning are dealing with beginnings and endings, caught up in the peaks or the valleys of living. But most of us are in the middle. Therefore, we must open our hearts to God’s Spirit who helps us to remain focused, fresh and faithful. Come, Spirit of God. Come into the middle of our lives. Come into all the ordinary time which surrounds us. Come, make us joyful, thankful people today.