When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

A blessed Pentecost to all of you!

Fifty days ago, we celebrated Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. Ten days ago, we celebrated the Lord’s Ascension. Today we are gathered into that singular moment where alongside the Apostles, disciples, and the Blessed Mother we enter prayer and receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

But Father, what do you mean? Isn’t the Spirit something we ‘got’ when we were baptized and later confirmed? Well… yes and no.

If we think about the Holy Spirit’s presence and affect in our lives as merely a transactional thing, something that happens once and we are done with it, we would be mistaken. We must remember that the Spirit’s key gift is an ongoing and energizing life together. 

Let’s dissect this a bit. 

Where are we? Indeed, yes, in church. But think about this, the way our parish church is configured we are upstairs, in the upper room. Like the Apostles, disciples, and the Blessed Mother we are engaged in prayer. Like them we have received Jesus’ promise of the Advocate: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” And… here He is among us and in us.

Let’s take a moment and breathe that in. Let us close our eyes, breathe in deeply, just like when the doctor is checking your heart and lungs, and breathe out doing a self-check on our hearts and lungs.

Our hearts and minds should be perceiving the Holy Spirit flowing through us, planting His unique gifts in us. Our breath should be filled with praise for His wonderful presence and the power He gives us.

Back to the idea of transactional things, was that check-in with the Holy Spirit just a transaction. We paid a few seconds of our time and now we’re done? Not at all!

Life with a transactional god is life with a mere idol, it is idolatry. Life in the Spirit gets us forever strength and power. Doing that close your eyes, breathe in and out exercise focused on the Holy Spirit’s being with us should leave us trembling with energy and enthusiasm for doing as those others gathered in the upper room did this day: “speaking of the mighty acts of God.

What is our

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Jesus asks a pretty tough question today. “Who do people say I am?” It is a very human question. I am pretty sure I have wondered and asked the same question. Perhaps many of you as well. What do people think of me? How do people perceive me?

The answer to Jesus’ question lies in how we respond to His presence. Do we fully live and proclaim His presence or do we just recognize it?

Some social scientists tell us that people assume different personalities, or different ‘presences,’ based on who they are with or where they are. Their theory is that we care so much about what others think that we change who we are to meet their perceptions. We are one way at work, another with friends or family, another at church, another when we are alone, maybe even another way when we are dreaming. We put on different ‘suits’ to fit the party we are attending.

What do we put on for Jesus’ party? What suit do we put on when we go to church? This isn’t a sermon about how we dress. Frankly, that does not matter. So, we will stay away from clothing. But we will focus on presence.

Presence is a funny word. Webster’s would say that presence is the fact or condition of being in a place or time. It can also mean the way we carry ourselves.

Being in church or at church is about being in a place and at a time. The way we carry ourselves, our outward behaviors at church, is also about presence. We easily meet Webster’s definition of presence. So, we are here.

Is being present, is the ‘suit’ we are wearing today, enough of an answer to Jesus’ question? It is an answer, but is only the beginning of an answer.

Peter took a huge risk blurting out his understanding of Jesus’ identity as God among us. He moved from just living in Jesus’ presence to being fully in and of Jesus. Full on committed.

Like Peter, we need to move from just wearing an outward suit, from a following along, from just being a consumer of God’s presence, to full on, fully involved faith.

There is big risk in taking off our suit (thankfully I’m not talking about clothes). We are not protected anymore. We cannot just walk away after church. We have to live in the presence of Christ in an ongoing and involved way. We must become people in and of Jesus, making Him present by our genuine presence every day – keeping Him real. We must be willing to show and tell the world – this is Jesus – God here.