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June 4, 2017 - Dear God...

Pentecost Sunday 

Scripture Readings

I read the scripture readings for Pentecost for the first time on Wednesday. As I read each of the readings I could feel my eyes tear up. Somewhere in the deepest part of my being, I feel very tormented. Nothing troubles me more than the inability of human beings to come together and work for the common good. Global conflicts, racial divides, economic inequalities, political and religious intolerance affect me deeply. When I was a kid and later as a teenager, I used to be much more optimistic. I believed then, that one day we will work through our problems. I believed that one day there will be fewer poor people in the world. I believed that one day, nations will spend less on weapons and more on education and development. At fifty-one, I have become less optimistic. I have not lost hope, by my hope is fading that in my life-time I will see a more equitable, peaceful, and united world. The scene on that first Pentecost was the beginning of a revolution, a recreation of a wounded world. The tears filling my eyes was an expression of two things: first, my regret at the world continuing to be a wounded world; second, a pining for a new Pentecost. “Dear God,” I prayed, “please let your Spirit work wonders in our midst again.” As I prayed, I continued to write my prayer. I invite you to pray with me. 

My homily today, then, is a prayer - a prayer for peace, for harmony, for unity among Christians and our homes.

1. A prayer for Peace. “Dear God, twice in today’s account of your Son’s appearance to his disciples, he wished them, “Peace.” Your Son offered them peace because they were in fear. Today our world is torn apart by conflict, war and ever dangerous arms race. Famines, natural disasters, gun violence, terrorism, addictions and domestic violence inflicts fear upon many of us. We are wounded by sin and selfishness. Holy God, we believe that your gift of peace was  not a empty promise. On that day Jesus breathed on the disciples and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sin you retain are retained.” We pray, dear God, that you pour out your Holy Spirit once more - on us, on the Church and upon the world. Forgive us our sins - our sins in thoughts, words, and actions that contribute to hatred, violence, war, and fear. Renew your gift of peace to our parish community that we may be disciples: sacraments of peace. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.

2. A prayer for Harmony. “Dear God, on that first Pentecost, our common dignity as human persons created and loved by you, was revealed to the nations. People of different nations, peoples, languages, cultures, and races recognized the greater language of love and harmony. Holy God, the harmony you gifted to us at Pentecost, continues to evade us as racial, ethnic, religious, class, caste and ideological conflicts plague our world. What you began at Pentecost, I plead with you dear God, continue among us today. May we speak the common language of love, of acceptance, and of reconciliation. May we seek more to understand each other rather than to seek to highlight our misunderstandings. May we celebrate the diversity of our languages, our cultures, our races, and ethnicities rather than regret them. Touch the hearts of those who stand to gain from accenting and exploiting the already existing disharmony. Pour out your Holy Spirit on our own lives that we may shed our prejudices, overcome our differences, and do our part to bring harmony in our homes, our church, our neighborhood, and our world.”

3. A prayer for Unity. “Holy God, Pentecost is the birthday of your Church. Today, your Holy Church, the very people you birthed are in need of the same grace that they received on the first Pentecost. Doctrinal differences tear us apart. The very people who bear your name are divided - all in your name. At that first Pentecost, more and more people joined your people because their unity was a witness to your presence among them. Today, we your people pray for a renewal in your church. Renew each one of our lives with your gentle breath. Let the same strong driving wind that swept the house that day, sweep over your church. Today, let the fire or your love kindle our hearts. Let the fruit of your Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control - be self-evident in your church. We pray also for our families. May our homes be your dwelling, a little church. Renew our families, give them unity, and make them holy. And for us your disciples, we pray renew our faith and strengthen us from within.  

The Eucharist we are about to celebrate is also a prayer - the prayer of Jesus. It would not be possible unless the Holy Spirit came and transformed the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. Let us continue to pray to the Father, with Jesus, and in the Spirit. Amen. 

- Fr. Satish Joseph