Feast of Pentecost
(Jn. 14, 15-16, 23-26)
The Rev. Leonard Oakes
Does anyone know the origin of rainbow? The story is told this way. different colors had an argument as to which of them was the greatest. Yellow insisted on its significance. Orange insisted on its importance. Green said he is No. 1. And the discussion went on and on. Then, God sent a loud thunder. Scared, all of them came together and all of them formed as one. And thus is the story of how the rainbow began.
Today is Pentecost, the time when the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles, and came together as one. It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that the fearful, doubting and wounded community which Jesus began became empowered and emboldened to carry out its mission from Jerusalem to New Delhi and to the ends of the Earth. Thus came about the Church, and that was how its story began.
In today’s Gospel, the Lord tells us that if we love Him, we must keep His commandments. It is precisely the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, who will help us, who will teach us everything and remind us of all that the Lord has told us. Here at Holy Child and St. Martin, the presence of the Holy Spirit is present in all our ups and downs. There was a time when every inch of these pews were filled with people. St. Martin had a wonderful programs that served the needs of the people. It started as a mission station. Growth was so rapid that it became a Parish and was the beacon of hope in Daly City and the neighboring cities. Somehow, what has been a mountain top experience had turned into a rough and rugged road. The parish had to come down to the mission status. It has been 25 years now that the Church was stuck in a Mission status. But we as a people, refuse to believe that our bus will always live in the mud. We somehow managed to move bit by bit and is almost out of the mud. Growth has become steadily going up and signs are very imminent that we will once again be back to where we were, a Parish status where we will be able to say, “We made it as the body of Christ, united with one accord to uphold the love of God in our midst.”
We have made it again to the Day of Pentecost, the birth of Holy Child and St. Martin as one body of Christ. It has been 23 years now since the merger of two loving congregations. We continue to see the wonders of God’s love in our midst.
At Holy Child and St. Martin, there have been wonderful times where we encountered the presence of the Holy Spirit this past week. A week ago, our delegates to the Deanery Beloved Community gathering have experienced the pouring of the Holy Spirit with what they learned and whom they met at that gathering. Part of our Liturgy today are derived from that experience.
Yesterday, I was given the honor to do the invocation at the renewal, celebration and rededication of the Philippine Association of University Women USA on their 51st year anniversary celebration at the Holiday Inn. Immediately after that, I attended the birthday celebration of Vanessa Dayrit at their house in Pacifica. Today, we celebrate the 75th birthday of The Rev. Dr. Lynn Bowdish.
With all the anniversaries and birthdays, there is one most special day for the whole body of Christ, it is the birthday of the Church. Happy birthday to you! Receive the Holy Spirit who will guide you into all truth.
At Dinner time, the father noticed his son so worried so he asked him, “What’s wrong son?” The son replied, “I’m worried about my bicycle being left outside” The father said, “Don’t worry son, the Holy Spirit is watching your bicycle. Now carry on with your prayer over the food.” So the son said his prayer, “In the name of the Father and of the Son. Amen.” The father asked, “Where’s the Holy Spirit?” The son replied, “He is watching the Bicycle.”
The Holy Spirit, as Jesus promised, “’guides us to all truth’. He guides us not only to the encounter with Jesus, the fullness of Truth, but He guides us ‘within’ Truth, that is, makes us to enter into an ever deeper communion with Jesus, giving us knowledge of the things of God. … The Church’s tradition affirms that the Spirit of truth acts in our hearts, arousing that ‘sense of the faith’ through the People of God, under the guidance of the Church teaching, unfailingly adheres to the faith that is passed on to us, deepening it with right judgement and applying it more fully in their lives.
We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God resides in each one of us. Let us recognize that. Let us not be blinded by our sight in our ways of ignoring each other’s work. We should never let our differences deviate us from our goal to arriving at God’s kingdom. We should always come together as one body of Christ, for in us, in each one of us, the messiah is present.
There’s story about seeing Christ in each other, adapted from The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace by Dr. M. Scott Peck
Once a great order, a decaying monastery had only five monks left. The order was dying. In the surrounding deep woods, there was a little hut that a Rabbi from a nearby town used from time to time.
The monks always knew the Rabbi was home when they saw the smoke from his fire rise above the treetops. As the Abbot agonized over the imminent death of his order, it occurred to him to ask the Rabbi if he could offer any advice that might save the monastery. The Rabbi welcomed the Abbot at his hut. When the Abbot explained the reason for his visit, the Rabbi could only commiserate with him. “I know how it is,” he exclaimed. “The spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one comes to the synagogue anymore.” So the Abbot and the Rabbi sat together discussing the Bible and their faiths.
The time came when the Abbot had to leave. “It has been a wonderful visit,” said the Abbot, “but I have failed in my purpose. Is there nothing you can tell me to help save my dying order?”
“The only thing I can tell you,” said the Rabbi, “is that the Messiah is among you.” When the Abbot returned to the monastery, his fellow monks gathered around him and asked, “What did the Rabbi say?” “He couldn’t help,” the Abbot answered. “The only thing he did say, as I was leaving was that the Messiah is among us. Though I do not know what these words mean.” In the months that followed, the monks pondered this and wondered whether there was any possible significance to the Rabbi’s words: The Messiah is among us? Could he possibly have meant that the Messiah is one of us monks here at the monastery? If that’s the case, which one of us is the Messiah? Do you suppose he meant the Abbot? Yes, if he meant anyone, he probably meant Father Abbot. Certainly he could not have meant Brother Elred! Elred gets crotchety at times. But come to think of it, even so, Elred is virtually always right. Maybe the rabbi did mean Brother Elred. Of course the Rabbi didn’t mean me.
He couldn’t possibly have meant me. I’m just an ordinary person. Yet supposing he did? Suppose I am the Messiah? As they contemplated in this manner, the monks began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one among them might be the Messiah and in turn, each monk began to treat himself with extraordinary respect. It so happened that people still occasionally came to visit the beautiful forest and monastery. Without even being conscious of it, visitors began to sense a powerful spiritual aura. They were sensing the extraordinary respect that now filled the monastery. Hardly knowing why, people began to come to the monastery frequently to picnic, to play, and to pray. They began to bring their friends, and their friends brought their friends. Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk more and more with the older monks. After a while, one asked if he could join them. Then, another and another asked if they too could join the abbot and older monks. Within a few years, the monastery once again became a thriving order, a vibrant center of light and spirituality in the realm. – Author unknown
The lesson here is by assuming the specialness of every person, we build a culture of respect that generates energy, creativity, and magnetism – something that people can sense and feel, and to which they are drawn. Highly respectful cultures treat every person with courtesy and interest, and convey the understanding that every member of the community is valued. By treating every person with the utmost respect, we develop a culture in which everyone wants to give their best to others, and expects to receive the best from others in return. It is the type of culture everyone deserves, and it is up to us to make it happen. In our daily lives, we can create a culture of respect with every personal interaction we have, whether it is with the health and wellness program, building and grounds, altar guild, a Eucharistic minister , or an acolyte. It is time for us to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in everyone of us, in our passions and in our community building. Let us look at each other in the eyes of God.
The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church need a new Pentecost experience. It is time for us to stop insisting on our own colors, stop arguing and, like a rainbow, come together as one. We have a wonderful opportunity now for a fresh start and a new beginning. Let us be cleansed of the dirt and filth of the past, and put on a new spirit founded on Love, Compassion and Service.
We are Holy Child and St. Martin, united in one accord to uphold the Love of God in everyone. If we are to become once again a Parish two years from now, we must first need to learn to forgive each other, lift each other’s passion, love one another, see each other in the eyes of God, then come to God’s court and offer your praises and thanksgiving. Let us be focused and not fall along the wayside. Onward Holy Child and St. Martin for God has breathed the Holy Spirit upon us and dwell among us. Let us proclaim God’s love even with a low tone of voice not above our breath.
Pentecost need not be loud. They must start in the heart, in a listening and a prayerful heart. It was when the disciples sat still in prayerful remembering that the Holy Spirit descended upon them. Yes, God is most present, and speaks loudest when we are silent. Amen.