Living as authentic followers of Jesus will help many to follow Jesus

Homily for Pentecost Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

We see in these days that the Holy Spirit is active in some people’s lives and others seem to be following something other than the Holy Spirit. What a contrast we see around us between the good people who are upset over the release of a recent movie (2006) and those who support it. Indeed for any one who is a friend of Jesus it is upsetting to see such a fictitious movie released. Indeed we could say it is blasphemous. What a contrast between the good people trying to oppose the planned importation of thousands prostitutes into Germany in time for the world cup (2006) and those who plan to bring this about. Surely Germany does not expect a blessing from the Lord to follow this. Does this contrast not reveal the disparity between those living with the Spirit of God and those not listening to the Spirit of God? What a blessing in one’s life to be a friend of Jesus and Mary and live life in union with them. What a grace for some that they opened their hearts to God and God fills their hearts. These controversies of our days show that some people are living with God in their hearts and others do not realize that what they do is offensive to God. Can we not see in these days that the Holy Spirit is active in some people’s lives and others seem to be following something other than the Holy Spirit?

This is the contrast that we see in our Scripture readings today also. In the Gospel today, an excerpt of Jesus’ discourse to his apostles during the Last Supper in John’s Gospel, Jesus proclaimed (Gospel Year B)

“when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” (John 16:13)

In our days we see some guided by the Spirit of truth and others guided by a different spirit. In our second reading, Paul also wrote about the difference between those guided by the Spirit and those who are not.

…live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other…(Gal 5:16-17)

Paul went on to give examples of exactly what he meant. About those not guided by the Spirit Paul wrote,

the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. (Gal 5:19-21)

How can such people really be happy? What a mess to be in. We pray that people who live that way today may come to find the Lord and leave that way of life behind. But Paul says those who have the Spirit have these fruits,

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23)

Traditionally the Church has also added another three fruits of the Spirit – goodness, modesty and chastity - giving us a total of twelve fruits of the Spirit. Those showing these qualities in their lives are obviously happy people, perhaps also with crosses and trials and sufferings, but happy people because they have opened their hearts to God and are receiving God’s blessings. What Paul wrote to the Galatians is precisely what we see in our world today, there are those guided by the works of the flesh and others who have opened themselves to God and have the produced the fruits of

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control and chastity.

When we compare what Paul wrote to the Galatians with our world we are very aware that our world is a mixed bag, engaging in what Paul calls “the works of the flesh” and also doing works of kindness. We are also painfully aware that the same applies to the Church of Christ, there are some who are engaging in “the works of the flesh” and those producing the fruits of the Spirit. If everyone in our Church were fully open to the Spirit of God what a different world we would have. See what happened in Jerusalem when a small number of apostles and disciples of Jesus received the Holy Spirit. We read in Acts that thousands accepted Jesus as the Messiah in the days immediately following Pentecost. That is because those early disciples of Jesus were authentic and genuine about their belief in Jesus, so authentic and genuine that they were prepared to suffer if necessary to show that they believed Jesus was the Messiah.

During the Last Supper, before his Passion, as we heard in our Gospel, Jesus had said the apostles would testify and witness to him after receiving the Holy Spirit.

When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26-27)

Today also there are those who testify and witness by their lives that Jesus is the Messiah and the way he taught us is the only way to live. Today also we see that the Holy Spirit is active in some people’s lives and others seem to be following something other than the Holy Spirit. Our Church and indeed all are suffering because of many who are not witnessing to Jesus but are engaging in “the works of the flesh.” What can we do? We heard in our first reading that everyone in Jerusalem heard the apostles and disciples speaking in their own language (Acts 2:6). In our day there is one language that can unite all peoples, that is if as a Church we are united in love as authentic followers of Jesus. The language of love and living as authentic and genuine followers of Jesus is what will attract people to the Church and help them to follow Jesus. We want to open our hearts even more to the Spirit of God so that we may be more and more authentic followers of Jesus so that others may see that following Jesus with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength is the only way worth living.

…live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other…(Gal 5:16-17)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2006

This homily was delivered in a parish in Maryland near where I have joined the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for Pentecost Sunday Year B

Pentecost - the Spirit helping us

Renewed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

Related Homilies: How can we receive the Holy Spirit to raise us up?

my meditation on Pentecost in Let’s Talk to Jesus