6-4-2017 Pentecost Sunday
Jun 5, 2017
Pentecost / 2017 / A
Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan
On this Pentecost, I am going to repeat a theme I frequently use in my homilies: there is nothing in this world that can ever fully satisfy us. People who are atheist, who are extreme materialists or secularists, say that that this world is capable of supplying all of our needs . . . well, I just don’t buy it. We are a pretty normal group of people here, a good sample of the general population. Ask yourself: has any one, or any thing, or any activity ever fully satisfied your deepest thirst or your deepest longing?
I can reflect in my own life in this regard. I think back to Christmas when I was a child—how I would pick out one gift that I really wanted, and I would beg Santa Claus to bring it to me. And I usually got what I wanted, some toy or game. And I would play with it all the time, everyday. And I had great fun! But gradually, my interest began to wane. Eventually I would play with it every other day, then every other week, and so on. Eventually, something else would catch my attention, that I wanted, and the whole cycle would repeat itself.
And isn’t this true of everything else that seems to satisfy us: wealth, power, pleasure, food, drink, drugs.
St. Augustine really got it right when he said, "Lord, you have made us for yourself. And our hearts are restless, until they rest in thee." We are hard-wired for God.
And that brings us to today’s feast: Pentecost. In a nutshell, what we really want is the Holy Spirit. We want the life of God. We want the vitality of God, the energy of God, the joy of God. And that is what Pentecost is all about.
In the Gospel from the Vigil Mass of Pentecost, Jesus says, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me . . . for from me, living water will flow." This living water is the Holy Spirit—and the Holy Spirit alone can satisfy this thirst.
Have you ever been really thirsty? You know, we can go a long time without food. But thirst is something different. It’s visceral. I remember one time in New Mexico when I went out for a hike in the desert, and I foolishly didn’t take enough water. When I ran out, I remember the intensity of my thirst—and the panic it caused.
This is why Jesus uses the word thirst—and the Scriptures as well—to express our longing and our need for God. The Psalmist says it beautifully: "O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you, like a dry, weary land without water" (Ps 63). If anyone thirsts, come to the water!
Our journey as Christians is a quest for this living water, for this Holy Spirit. In the first reading today, it says that Jews "from every nation under heaven" had gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. When the Apostles began to preach, "each one heard them speaking in his own language." Why? Because the message hit home. All of them were thirsty—all of them share the same basic longing.
It is like the expression, "Now you’re speaking my language." We all need living water. We all need the Holy Spirit.
But how do we get it? How does one acquire the Holy Spirit? By staying close to the Lord—so close that he can breathe on you. So close that you can feel his breath on your face. By making his mind our mind. By making his will our will. By making his desires our desires. And to love as he loves.
The Feast of Pentecost reminds us of our thirst for God—and the only way to satisfy that thirst: the Holy Spirit.
So come to water, all who are thirsty—and be filled with the Holy Spirit.