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Homily for Pentecost Sunday

May 19,2024

St John Baptist de LaSalle

Pentecost Sunday


There is a story about a young woman making the final arrangements for her wedding. The wedding is just a few weeks away. Almost everything has been done; The church has been booked, the reception has been paid for, invitations have been sent out. There is just one last thing this woman does not have: a wedding dress. The reason that she does not have a wedding dress was there was no one who could make the kind of dress she wanted. And to each dressmaker, she asks the same question. "I want," she would say, "I want a dress that makes a rustling noise every time that I move."


Finally, she did find a dressmaker, one whom she knew. And so, she went to him and said, "I need a wedding dress that rustles every time I move." "Well, I can do that for you," the dressmaker said, "if that is what you want. The dress is going to be heavy, and it is going to be uncomfortable. And not too pretty to look at. But it will rustle." "That's just what I want," she said. "I don't need it to look beautiful. I don't need it to be comfortable. But I do need it to rustle every time I make a movement."


"But let me ask," the dressmaker said, "Why would you want a wedding dress if it is uncomfortable and not pretty to look at? And heavy to wear and rustles when you move?" And the woman says, "Because my fiancé is blind, and I need him to know at every single moment of this ceremony, at every moment of his life, that I am standing at his side."


So, here's my first question to you. What is it that is rustling inside you, inside your own life? Something that's rustling. And by that rustling, reminds you that this God, whom we have never seen, is standing right beside us every moment of our life.


Here's the second question. When will that moment come for me or for you, when we need somebody to stand alongside us? Will it be that day when we have to face the bully in the schoolyard? Or that bully in our workplace? Or that bully in our own home? Because bullies are not always found on playgrounds. Or will it be on that day when we find ourselves betrayed by the person that we love most? Or by our very best friend? Or some family member that we care for? Or perhaps it will be the day that we discover that we were the bullies. We were the heartbreakers. And now, years later, we realize that there is nothing that we can do to heal the damage that we have done. When will that moment come when we most need somebody who will stand by us?


So, talking about things that rustle, here's my last question for you. Jesus says to Nicodemus, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You cannot tell where it comes from, or where it is going. So, it is with everyone, born of the Holy Spirit."


So, what does this Holy Spirit look like anyway? Do we, or anybody know? We can fill our church with pictures of doves, except the Holy Spirit does not look like a dove. And we can paste up pictures of tongues of flame, except that the Holy Spirit does not look like a tongue of flame.


Actually, we do know what the Holy Spirit looks like. The Holy Spirit looks a lot like us, like the people around us, particularly those who stand by our side. Or, in those moments when we choose to stand up for somebody, or defend someone's good name, or that day when we stand up to a bully, or just help someone get through the day. Particularly because those are just some of the things that the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit is identified in Scripture by the word, Paraclete. It's an odd word. And when I was young, I thought it was something funny. It always reminded me of parakeets, which were very popular in my life for a while.


So, the word Paraclete has been translated into other words that are more understandable to us, like advocate, or governor, or helper. And those are good words. But they are not really quite what the word Paraclete means. Because the word Paraclete, translated literally, means somebody who stands at your side.


The Holy Spirit looks just like us. Whenever you and I are Paracletes, when we choose to stand alongside somebody, we remind them of the most important things in life that they may have forgotten. After all, that's exactly the point of the resurrection. It's God lifting us up, putting us on our feet again. That’s what the Holy Spirit looks like.


Because the Holy Spirit is the one who comes, and defends, and rescues, and comforts us, and stands by our side. When we come into people's lives, blessing them, refreshing them, inspiring them, and just bringing a little peace into someone's life, then we are Paracletes.


So, on this Pentecost, I ask, what is the one thing rustling inside you, reminding you of the God we cannot see? Helping you realize that God is standing with us, beside us. And at what moment in my life am I a Paraclete, a representative of the Spirit to others?


Jesus says to Nicodemus, "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You can hear it coming. You cannot tell where it comes from, or where it is going. So it is with everyone, born of the Holy Spirit."

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