Say it!

Brothers and sisters: No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Happy birthday Church.

The Solemnity of Pentecost, after Easter, is the Church’s greatest celebration. In fact, in the early Church, people could only enter the fullness of the Church through baptism on either Easter or Pentecost. Pentecost is that important. Pentecost is that vital, for without this day all of Jesus’ work and teaching would have died off with the Apostles and disciples. Pentecost was that moment in which we were all commissioned to proclaim Jesus’ saving message. We, the people of the Church received the strength, the grace of the Sevenfold Gifts of the Spirit, necessary to carry Jesus’ message to the whole world.

What the Apostles and all those in the upper room did this day is exactly what we are called to do. It is the methodology by which we are to proclaim salvation in Jesus the Lord. It is by our standing out there, on the balconies of the world, it is by our voices raised in praise and proclamation, that salvation in Jesus the Lord is proclaimed.

Today is about our status as full members of the Holy Church and what our work is to be. For today, Jesus’ promised sending of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled and with the Spirit’s decent into our lives (and note I am not saying into the world) we were born to be Jesus’ hands, feet, and voice; to proclaim Jesus is Lord!

We are set apart from the world, we do not belong to it any longer. The Holy Spirit is ours exclusively so we might do God’s work. Our cause is to go out and say Jesus is Lord. Our home is the Kingdom.

When was the last time any one of us met someone and in the course of our conversation said to them, Jesus is my Lord and Savior? 

Without the power of this day all of Jesus’ work and teaching would have died off. So today, we recall that unless we say it from the balconies and at every opportunity, it will die off with us.

We often take pride in the fact that we can speak out on whatever, whenever, and to whomever we want. Yet, how often do we say Jesus is Lord except in the secret of our minds, or in our homes, or within the walls of this building? How often are we quicker to speak on some other trivial matter than to speak of Jesus. If we spend our time as Church saying Jesus is Lord and eschew worldly matters, which should be dead to us, the lost will be converted.

Pastors tell their people, ‘Wear red today.’ A nice sentiment, but nothing unless the Holy Spirit’s fire is burning within us, unless the statement Jesus is Lord is on our lips. Let us look in the mirror tonight and say Jesus is Lord out loud. Say it over several times, and if we can, we know we have the Holy Spirit in us. Knowing that, let nothing stop us for Jesus said, “I send you.”

We
share.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

On the Sunday following His resurrection, in the evening, Jesus appears once again. These appearances of Jesus fulfill many purposes. They perpetuate and reinforce the teachings He had provided over the course of His ministry. They obviously show His resurrected body and its physicality (He eats and drinks with them) – the promise for our resurrection in the body. Today, we see Him also strengthening the faith of Thomas and leaving direction for all who doubt (doubt is never wrong, rather it is the outcome, how we overcome our doubt that matters). We also see a commissioning of the disciples with power, sending with the right to loose and to bind.

In jumping between Jesus’ commissioning of the disciples and the encounter with Thomas, we tend to miss a nuance. The nuance is that we share. As disciples, we share. Christianity is about sharing.

This sharing begins with the fact that we are sent. Consider that Jesus had no reason to send us, nor do we have any reason to go, unless we have something to share. 

He asked that we go and share His word, we share His life-giving sacrifice, we share the promise of this – His empty tomb. We share both as empowered individuals and as a community.

It is so nice to share – great to share but sharing also has a cost. We have to be ready to accept the cost. What would we give up to share Jesus today? Tomorrow? 

St. John the Evangelist declared in Revelation: I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus. That captures it so well. John starts introducing himself, calls himself our brother, and starts sharing. He sees that he shares in all things – the good and the bad. What a perfect model of what Jesus wanted of us told through the disciple He loved. What a perfect model for us.

The week ahead – share. Let us introduce ourselves, be a brother or sister, share with each person so they may share also in the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance. Share to grow the community. Share Jesus because we share.

Open to God’s
reward.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

These scriptures for Ordinary Time speak to where we are and urge us to deeper spiritual formation, authentic responses to God’s call in the midst of our challenges, and to a renewed commitment to evangelism.

Earlier in St. Matthew, chapter 10, Jesus sends out the Twelve. He commissions them to: go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Jesus advised the disciples to accept no extra money, but to receive the welcome of those who would care for them on their mission. He specifically points out that: The laborer deserves his keep. Today we focus on our task of receiving those who are sent.

The Church sends forth its priests to serve local communities, and in our tradition the local community is given the option of accepting the one sent. This helps because when the personality of the one sent and of those receiving him mesh, good things happen, graces abound, and the work of drawing more into the kingdom is productive. Jesus remains with the sent and those who receive them. He does not turn His back on them. He rewards them.

Today, Jesus addresses those receiving the ones sent and He states His expectation as well as the rewards given to those who meet His expectation. By illustration – whoever gives to the one sent, even a cup of cold water will be rewarded. Whoever receives the sent, because they have sacrificed their lives to carry the Gospel, will be rewarded. Isn’t this a wonderful prospect – a reward guaranteed by God?

If we look at our community we see the rewards that come from graciously receiving the sent. We see God’s promises fulfilled. The cooperative and positive relationship between our local church and those sent to it has resulted in growth, greater charity, and a joy that overcomes any obstacle. The rewards and the blessings we receive are not separate from God, nor is He just a bystander. He is active in our lives – delivering on His promises because we listen to Him. He is blessing us! Let’s be absolutely clear, God has blessed our work specifically because we give that cup of cold water to the sent and in fact to all who come and find welcome here.

We hold Jesus out to others by our authentic response of welcome. How we receive the sent, how we receive all, is how we receive Jesus. Open to all we open ourselves to God’s reward.