Sunday Homily (Full Text)

Sunday Homily


Reading 1            Acts 2:1-11

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

and began to speak in different tongues,

as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.


Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem.

At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,

but they were confused

because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,

“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?

Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?

We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,

inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,

Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,

Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,

as well as travelers from Rome,

both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,

yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues

of the mighty acts of God.”


Responsorial Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!

How manifold are your works, O Lord!

the earth is full of your creatures;

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;

may the LORD be glad in his works!

Pleasing to him be my theme;

I will be glad in the LORD.

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

If you take away their breath, they perish

and return to their dust.

When you send forth your spirit, they are created,

and you renew the face of the earth.

Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Reading 2: 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:

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


There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;

there are different forms of service but the same Lord;

there are different workings but the same God

who produces all of them in everyone.

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit

is given for some benefit.


As a body is one though it has many parts,

and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,

whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.


Gospel John:20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

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.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained.”



There is always a before and there is always an after, isn’t there? Single life — married life,  single life — priesthood,  college work — job, promotions — transfers. Well, we find the same thing in several instances in the Bible.


Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise — they had it made.  Then they were tempted and somebody said to them,  “If you do this you will be like God.”  So they took the apple, ate of the fruit and disobeyed God, and you know what broke out after that.  They were strangers to one another.  They ran and hid themselves and they were not caring for one another.  They had to work; they had to know pain; they had to die.


In the book of Genesis, the story of the Tower of Babel is the same thing.  In Chapter 11  we read, “The whole world spoke the same language using the same words.  While men were migrating in the east they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.  They said to one another,  ‘Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.’  They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 


“And then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky and so make a name for ourselves.  Otherwise, we will be scattered all over the earth.


Before, after. “The Lord came down to see that city and that tower they had built.  And if now they were one people all speaking the same language they have started to do this nothing will later stop them doing whatever they presume to do.  Let us then now go down and confuse their language so one will not understand what the other is saying.”

And so it happened. 


Father Ronald Rolheiser on his website has an article called,  “Looking Over the City.”

There are three accounts in the Gospels of Jesus looking over the city of Jerusalem and what did he see?  He found a mixture of everything.  There was good.  There were people in the city of Jerusalem who loved him, and he loved them and accepted his message and tried to follow him.  There was goodness.


There were some who did not accept him.  There were those who stoned the prophets of old and killed the messenger.  There were both good and evil people.  And Jesus wept over that city and cried,  “Jerusalem, Jerusalem.  How often I would have gathered you like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings to protect them.  But you would have none of it.  You stoned the prophets.  You killed the messenger.  Therefore, you would not listen, you would not heed.”


He came in the room and the disciples were meeting behind locked doors.  They were afraid,  “What’s going to happen to us?” 


Most of them had abandoned Jesus on the cross at Calvary. And then they wondered,  “What’s going to happen to us if we continue to preach his message because we associated with him. Maybe they will do the same thing to us.”  And so in fear they locked themselves behind locked doors in the upper room.


And then Jesus came on Easter Sunday night and he came through the locked doors.

And he said,  “Peace be with you.”


Then he said again,  “Peace be with you.  Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain shall be retained.”


In the upper room too they were locked up in fear, afraid to come out.  Then the tongues of fire came out onto the heads of all of them.  And they burst out of that upper room and went out preaching the word of God and preaching the message of Jesus Christ —“Jesus whom you persecuted, whom you put to death.  And he is now alive.  He has risen from the dead.”  And they were no longer afraid to stand up and proclaim the message of Jesus Christ — before and after. 


I think I would like to suggest that each one of us, including myself, look on our city.

That city can be your family, that city can be my priesthood, it can be your parish, it can be your county, it can be your city of Quincy.  What do we find in that city, whatever level we are looking at?  What do we want the Holy Spirit to do in our lives, in our families, in our parish, in our neighborhoods, in our county, in our state, in our nation?


The Jews thought that the holiness was tied up in observing the law and following dietary regulations.  They thought is was just for the Jews and Jesus said,  “No.  I have come for every man, woman and child in this world to bring them the good news.”


After they received the Holy Spirit they could see that holiness was not tied up in the law, in dietary regulations but rather to become like, and follow and live, the life that Jesus Christ had taught them to live for those three years. 


That’s what holiness was — to care for one another — and to take the gifts of the Holy Spirit and serve the Body of Christ as we heard in the second reading.  There are many spirits, there are many ministries, there are many services but all are to be used to build up the Body of Christ, the Church, the parish, the family, the county, the city, the state, the nation, the world.


So, my sisters and brothers, as I thought about that, I want the Holy Spirit to come in its full force upon all bishops, all priests, all religious and help us to be what we are called to be and never again have the violation of children.  I want the Holy Spirit  to fill every family with joy, with love, with peace, with happiness as the parents live out their marriage commitment and as the children respect and love and respond to their parents. 


I want every parish to be a living rock of ages, a welcoming place for all those who are rejected and who are outcast to come in and find a place of rest.  Jesus ate with the outcasts.  Jesus was crucified with outcasts.  And the one outcast made his Act of Contrition on the cross when he said, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  That was his Act of Contrition and Jesus said,  “Today you will be with me in paradise.”


So, I want each of you to think about this.  I am going to say this in the prayers of petition,  “What gift or gifts do you want the Holy Spirit to fill in your heart, your life, your family, your work, your neighborhood, whatever — and whatever city you’re looking at — ask the Lord to fill you with that gift.


A before and an after.  Our world would be a wonderful place if we could all live out that message living the life of Jesus Christ.  It would be a different and wonderful and beautiful world.  We have many wonderful things, now, yes.  But there is so much left to be redeemed by the followers of Jesus Christ — you and I, his disciples.



Father James Wheeler, O.F.M., is a Franciscan priest of the Holy Cross Friary in Quincy, IL.


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