Thank you to Fr. John Gordon for his beautiful exhortation our People of Hope Pentecost prayer meeting. We've included the entire talk here so that it may continue to inspire and encourage us.
Praise the Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever. Well praise the Lord, Pentecost is real Amen? Pentecost is a real thing, yes. We don't know it because we read about it in the bible, we don't know it because we learned about it in school, we know it because we've been in that upper room, we've experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, we have lived, we are living pentecost, amen? Oh praise the Lord for this great, great gift of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is real. And you know I love how the Holy Spirit is present all throughout everything even when we do not know it. I love how the bible opens with the presence of the Spirit “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters”. Hallelujah for the Spirit of God moving over the face of the waters, bringing order out of the chaos with the Father speaking that word of creation bringing life to all things. But the bible ends also with the promise of the Spirit, “The Spirit and the bride say come let him hear say come, let him who was thirsty come let him with desires take the water of life without price.”
So I'm just going to read everything between those two passages, no we can do that with Fr. Michael Schmitz, I think he's doing that for us.
So one of the things that we experience in a particular way in terms of pentecost is the grace that we call the baptism in the Holy Spirit, yes? It's it's that grace that has allowed us to realize the the closeness, the nearness, the reality of Pentecost in our lives. And in one sense what the baptism in the Holy Spirit has done, it is it has solidified the sacraments of baptism and confirmation in us, yes? When we read about, when you go to a baptism or you go to a confirmation or you read about what the catechism says about these things you realize “oh that's what's going on, yeah I get it now” so for example the catechism says: “that among the effects of baptism are the forgiveness of sins we become a new creature anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, we are an adopted child, partaker of the divine nature, member of Christ, temple of the Holy Spirit, sanctifying grace lives in us enabling faith, hope, love and God the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit we grow in goodness through the moral virtues, we are incorporated into the Church, the body of Christ, we are members of one another and we are living stones built into a spiritual house a holy priesthood there is a sacramental bond for the unity of all the body of Christ and there is indelible spiritual mark that has been placed within us and we are consecrated for worship, sealed for the day of redemption and eternal life.” Hallelujah!
All that happens to a tiny little baby huh? All that happens in the sacrament of Baptism and of course the rest of our lives is living that out yes? The rest of our lives is actualizing that grace and the catechism speaks also of the various effects of confirmation, “it roots us more deeply in the divine affiliation that is sonship or daughterhood which makes us cry abba father, unites us more firmly to Christ it increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us it renders our bond with the church more perfect, gives us the special great strength of the Holy Spirit, to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ more boldly, to never be ashamed of the cross” and that's what the effects of confirmation are according to the Catechism.
And we can say amen to all these things amen? But I think we know even more, yes? We know even more of the grace and the effects of how the baptism in the Holy Spirit solidifying the graces of baptism and Confirmation has done so much more as well. It's kind of made us a whole new way of living. I know for myself when I walked into that prayer meeting years ago, I did not know my life was changed at that point. I did not know how far reaching that experience was going to be and I suspect none of us knew. But we are ever grateful for this tremendous, tremendous grace. And one of the effects of course of the baptism of the Holy Spirit that each of us has a witness as a we're, a testimony, each of us has a story. And this is a witness and a testament to be shared and lived regularly. So that's one of the things I encourage us to do all the more at things like Lord's Day or share groups or any other time we're together, talk about, remind us of how the grace of God is at work in us. And not just taking off what we did during the past week so to speak but the story the witness of God alive in me, and it should also be updated, my witness can't be just learned years ago, it has to be as fresh as today yes? Each day, each morning His mercies are renewed. So I need to be able to have that awareness of that grace working at me. And of course the gifts and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in some, my life is different because of this grace of the baptism the Holy Spirit amen? Now one of the things that we experience in terms of Pentecost is the reality, I always think of if you were to have an icon of Pentecost and how would you know that what you were looking at was a Pentecost icon, there have to be a couple of elements present, usually there's tongues of fire over the heads of the people yes? But among the things that must be present for it to be a genuine icon of Pentecost would be who? The Blessed Mother needs to be there, yes? She's present in the upper room. The apostles are there as are the disciples. In one sense Pentecost is the embodiment of the church at her best, at prayer. And so therefore we as the church are gathered always in that upper room with Mary and the apostles and we are the disciples. Without those connections something very integral, something very significant, something very necessary is missing.
We know even more of the grace and the effects of how the baptism in the Holy Spirit solidifying the graces of baptism and Confirmation has done so much more as well. It's kind of made us a whole new way of living.
But I would like to suggest other ways in which we experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit in our lives and that we can know how I know the Holy Spirit's alive and at work in me? And I wish it says there's a couple of things and you tell me whether or not this has been the case in our lives, our experience of the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Prayer becomes something that is alive and attractive, yes? Suddenly prayer was not just some boring thing of saying my prayers but prayer became the expression of a lived relationship with God, amen? The other thing that's the fruit of the baptism the Holy Spirit is that the scripture comes alive yes? The most boring book becomes the most exciting book! And it's no longer just a paperweight, but it really is the living word of God giving truth and life and meaning to our lives. We have a desire to be with like-minded brothers and sisters, yes? The baptism of the Holy Spirit made us yearn for other people who have experienced what we have experienced. The other thing that's the fruit of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is “I got to tell somebody”. There's a desire to let other people know the grace that's going on in our lives, and of course I think a true sign of someone who's been touched and living in the grace of the Holy Spirit is very simply joy. Joy in the truth that God has come and in the midst of a world that is kind of joyless at the moment, yes? In the midst of a world that has been kind of robbed of so much, joy is such a necessary aspect. But I would go on to suggest that the grace of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, that each one of us have experienced personally, is also a grace for us as a people, as a body, as a community.
That what the Lord has done in centuries and even if it wasn't something that was spoken of very often or something might have been only present in a few places among a few people, it was always there. And I believe that whenever people prayed “come Holy Spirit”, the Holy Spirit would come to them, amen? You know that God's gonna say yes to that prayer, He's not gonna say “maybe not to you”, of course He's pouring out the Holy Spirit. But the charismatic renewal and covenant community give us a particular way of responding and expressing this grace in our lives. And covenant community I believe at least for myself is the fruit of conversion, a further conversion, not just to conversion to the Lord, that the baptism the Holy Spirit is, but a conversion to community that this grace that God has given to us. Am I talking
to the right people? Okay that we've experienced this as not just “oh yeah loddy da, does the next step” no there's a conversion to it. One of the ways in which we invite other people to share in this life and to test it out in some way is do they experience a conversion? A genuine call? A genuine desire, change in their heart to make this to have this life. And that the effects of baptism and confirmation can be seen both within our lives individually and communally. So for example we talked about things like that we're incorporating to the church, the body of Christ, we experience that. That there's a sacramental bond of unity with all Christians. Isn't that our expressed desire as members of the Sword of the Spirit, that although we are a Catholic expression we are committed to an ecumenical view, an ecumenical perspective, an ecumenical vision, an ecumenical heart? Because we are united to our brothers and sisters, that we have received a mark that sets us apart, not in terms of covenant but in terms of grace. And I believe too that what we see in community is a trinitarian model of communio lived out. If God is in himself, a community of persons Father Son and Holy Spirit, then He calls us to live in a community way, in a communitarian way, in a communio. And so all the aspects that are present in terms of the inner life of the trinity that, the love they have from one another, the bowing to one another so to speak, the sharing in in each other's nature and the mission that they're part of, all that is something we experience as well in our own lives. And so we can see that our covenant with one another is an expression of our covenant with the Lord, yes? That I have made a covenant with the People of Hope because it helps me live out my covenant relationship with the Lord, all the more perfectly, all the more powerfully, all the more zealously. That covenant community is a move of grace, we didn't make it up to it, just kind of spontaneously rose. Now we had some very very smart people, people anointed with pastoral wisdom to help put a lot of structures in place but, basically the response of the people to want this kind of of commitment to one another is definitely a move of grace. And the other thing I think we've experienced as a community for ourselves for sure and this is spoken of throughout, is that the Lord's given us a name, his name, he's given us the name the People of Hope. And therefore we have a charism to offer, a charism of hope in a particular way and if there was ever a need for hope just as we live in a joyless world, we live in a world that has lost a lot of hope, yes? And here we are saying something very different, saying something to the world that is very different than what you might hear, very different than what you might even hear in your church, in your parish, that
sometimes people are caught up in fears and people are caught up in anxieties and people are concerned about this, that and the other thing. And I speak no judgment on that but we're called to not speak to not cooperate with our fears, to not to not partner with our, fear to not partner with that anxiety, but rather to live the word of hope, to live the People of Hope and He's given us a mission. And one of the things I also love is that as we pray, the Lord has given us zeal for the way of life and all this I believe is part of what the grace of pentecost, the grace of the baptism the Holy Spirit, the grace the spirit has given to us, not just for us as individuals but for us as a body of christ. And so if we have various signs that we are living in the life and the spirit as individuals, scripture and prayer and desire with like-minded others, I think there are a couple of patterns or a couple of things that make it's clear that we as a community as a body are living in the grace of the Holy Spirit they're still fresh and alive for us.
There's a desire to let other people know the grace that's going on in our lives, and of course I think a true sign of someone who's been touched and living in the grace of the Holy Spirit is very simply joy. Joy in the truth that God has come and in the midst of a world that is kind of joyless at the moment, yes? In the midst of a world that has been kind of robbed of so much, joy is such a necessary aspect.
And so I just suggest these and this is all very very Gordonian. In the first place, that we love one another more and more and more as time goes on, yes? I mean we really come to know each other and to genuinely love one another. The kind of love that means “I lay my life down for you”, the kind of love that means that “I will make myself totally available to you” and the kind of love that that separates any other kind of relationships that we have. And we all have all sorts of relationships don't we? We have family, we have lifelong friends, we have social and work obligations and other kinds of arrangements of life that we have, but we know that the relationships we have with one another far surpass all those, yes? That's the grace I think of of the baptism the Holy Spirit among us as a community. That there's zeal for the mission that he's given us, we are disciples on mission, that he's given us a zeal for that, a hunger for that, a desire for that, we're not merely content to just kind of “thank you Jesus i'm having a nice day” but we are zealous for the mission that he's given us, that the whole world can know Jesus Christ, amen? That the whole world can be sanctified and saved, amen? That the whole world can live into the race of Pentecost and we won't settle for anything less than that.
I'm reminded of years ago I was at a a conference in St Louis to celebrate Jesus 2000 and this woman came up and gave a witness about her youth group from Gary, Indiana, she was a Methodist. And she spoke about having 700 kids at her youth group every week. And the place cheered, praise the Lord, yabbadabba-doo, all that great stuff you’d expect at that kind of a conference, it was very exciting. And they were bible studying and sharing their passions and learning to live to share the mission and to preach and to evangelize she was very excited. And then she said “I don't have the largest youth group in town, Satan does” and she said “I will not rest until I get every one of those kids”. That's the zeal for the mission that he's given to us as well, amen? That we're not going to rest till everyone, everyone can hear the good news and be able to respond to that. The other thing I think that's a sign that the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in us, there's a flourishing of gifts and fruit of the Spirit in our midst. That there's a flourishing of charisms okay, prophecy and knowledge and healing, there's a flourishing of people praying in tongues and yielding to the great the charisms of of the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways and charism is not even mentioned in the scriptures but there's a real flourishing of them. And that there's a maturing of the fruit of the Spirit the love, joy and peace and patience, kindness and goodness and gentleness and faithfulness and self-control and so many others expressions that this flourishes in our midst. And one of the things that happens is these gifts and fruit don't always flourish in me but because they're flourishing in you, I'm all the more on fire to make them flourish in me and when you see them flourishing me you're all the more afraid to make them flourish in you, amen? So that's what I mean by how we do this as a community it becomes all the richer because of that. And I think the other thing that's a genuine expression of the Holy Spirit alive in us is that we're attractive to others. That others say “I want what you have, I want to be part of that, what is going on here?”. That doesn't mean we're popular with others, that doesn't mean that, but it means we're attractive and sometimes the attraction might repel to some for some people because it's a little too much if you know what I mean, but there is and there ought to be an attractiveness about our life. We have decidedly chosen not to to live a an amish kind of life, meaning the one that we withdraw from those culture, withdrawal from the world and trying to live our own way but rather we we want to engage the world for its sanctification, yes? That we evangelize the world, not that the world evangelizes, us always that danger, but that we're evangelizing the world. And so we choose to engage that and and that helps make us more and more attractive. And I think in a particular way for us the charism of hope is very strong. That where hope abides, God is all the more present among us because of that. And then once again I find that a particular expression for us, I believe, so just as I asked the question, “is my life different because of the grace of the baptist and the Holy Spirit”, in terms of our life together “Am I more on fire and more in love with God because I
am part of this community?” I know I can say I am. I know I can say amen to that. And then just to kind of sum up and kind of propel us in a certain way, I think that for us praise and worship is a particularly powerful expression of the Holy Spirit among us, yes? Jon mentioned that we're going to do a couple things and then we're going to pray and it's like and isn't that why we're here? Let's be honest, if they said “oh Fr John can't make it, no talk” all right no big deal. But “we're not going to pray”, oh no no that's that's not that's a big deal that's why we're here. That's why we're here. And so, one of the things we find ourselves there for is an imitation of heavenly worship, yes? One of the things I think that happens when we pray is that sometimes you kind of cross a certain threshold in which our ceiling and Heaven's floor become a little more transparent, yes? And we're kind of caught up in something more than just being in this place. And we know that that's a particular powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit because it doesn't come with a sacramental dimension infallibly so, right? It comes with a spontaneous response of God's love for us, that He wants to draw us into the Heavenlies and we want to be part of that. And of course if we're there then of course Mary is there, the saints are there, the angels are there, we're in God's presence. And just as therefore we kind of become aware that we are as an icon of church in the upper room, united with Mary and the apostles, so likewise as we move towards our homeland of Heaven and we kind of touch it a little bit by our praying together again, Mary is with us, our Mother of Hope in particular for us. And and that our worship is an experience of the Word of the Lord. The hebrew word for word is “dabar” which also means “event”. So that that the word is not just sounds in the air, nor is it just letters of the book, but the word is is a living thing. Of course we know that ultimately the word made flesh, but we experienced the word of the Lord yes? We don't just hear it but we experience it at least I certainly do. And that we encourage and inspire one another in a generous response. And I would say that is the glory evangelism that is a unique way in which we're called to share the gospel not just program evangelism, not just power evangelism, but glory evangelism, that's what I call it, in which because of our worship and our nearness to God, we're caught up in something beyond ourselves, we experience the strengthening of charisms, a strengthening of our mission, a healing in our lives the desire to say “Amen Lord, Amen Lord, Amen Lord”.
Praise the Lord Jesus Christ, now and forever!
-Fr. John, People of Hope Member
A big thank you to the Shrine of St. Joseph for the use of the church for our Pentecost Prayer Meeting!
This talk was given at our Pentecost Prayer Meeting, to hear it live, click here.