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Pentecost - Journey

The key word for today’s Mass is JOURNEY. By journey I don’t mean physical travel from one town to another. By journey I’m thinking about a person’s spiritual journey. The first journey I want to look at is the journey taken by Dorothy Day.

She was born in 1897 and she died in 1980. Her life as a young adult was stormy and turbulent to say the least. She had several affairs and a marriage that fell apart and an abortion that she referred to as the greatest tragedy of her life. She was an excellent writer and she worked for several different communist newspapers. But then she had a change of heart. In 1935 she quit working for the communist newspapers because they promoted atheism and violent revolutions and they were against private property.

At that point she became Catholic and began to promote the Catholic social teachings and the theory of distributive justice. Distributive justice means sharing goods and services until no one is in need. Distributive justice is not a new theory. This theory is found in the Bible, namely Acts, the Baltimore Catechism and the current Catholic Catechism.

Her spiritual journey took her from Communism to Catholicism. Her journey was internal and spiritual before it became visible to society. There is a possibility that she may be declared a saint. Pope John Paul II began the process for her to be declared a saint. Pope Francis praised her for being an American who helped our country to build a better future. Pope Benedict said that her life was a journey towards faith.

Many spiritual writers today describe the spiritual life as a journey. Why? Because the Bible and the Second Vatican Council say that we are a pilgrim people. The Council fathers pointed to the spiritual journeys made by Sarah and Abraham, and Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus, to name just a few.

For example, Sarah and Abraham traveled from Mesopotamia to Canaan. But that journey came after they converted from having many gods to having only one God.

Jesus traveled from the Garden of Gethsemane to the cross on Calvary. That happened after He questioned God’s plan and then said, “Let thy will not mine be done.”

St. Paul had three missionary journeys and then a journey to Rome. But all that came after his conversion from persecuting Jesus to becoming His foremost missionary disciple.

In today’s first reading the disciples are in the midst of a spiritual journey. They travel from deep seated fear to boldness and courage. They were hiding behind locked doors until the Holy Spirit pushed them into the streets where they proclaimed the Gospel in many different languages.

When I look at the Bible readings for today’s Mass, I see that everyone seems to be going on a journey. It looks like everyone is on the move. Everyone is going somewhere. Jesus is preparing to go to heaven. The Holy Spirit is coming down from heaven in the wind and in the tongues of fire. And the disciples are going forth to proclaim the Gospel. I want to take a closer look at each of those journeys in today’s liturgy.

First of all - and most importantly - Jesus is preparing to go up to heaven. It is Easter Sunday in today’s Gospel and Jesus has left the tomb. His work on earth is complete and he is free to go back to His Father. Let’s take a look at the job description that he completed during his time on earth.

Six centuries before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah said, “The word of God will come down from heaven, like rain falling from the sky. Rain gives moisture to the plants and then evaporates from the leaves and returns to the sky. In much the same way, the prophet said, the word of God will come down from heaven, give life to the earth and then it will return to heaven. Jesus is the Word of God. In the fullness of time, He came down from heaven and gave life to his people.

Jesus was life-giving. Like the Word in the prophet’s parable. His people were dying a spiritual death. They were suffocating from their selfishness. Jesus set them free from their cycle of self-centeredness. He taught them how to love others and how to serve others without seeking reward. Jesus was a life-giving person. He gave his people New Life by including them in his school of love. He brought them into his New Covenant, his circle of love.

As soon as his life-giving task was complete, Jesus was ready to return to his Father. The second journey concerns the Holy Spirit. In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that he will send his Holy Spirit to his followers. He knows that they will be sad and despondent after he ascends into heaven. So, he promises to send the Holy Spirit to breathe New Life into them.

On Pentecost Sunday the Holy Spirit will come down and fill them with energy and bring them back to life. They will respond by going forth to preach the Gospel. That brings us to the third journey that I was talking about: the disciples go forth to proclaim the Good News.

They go forth to tell people what Jesus has told them: God loves you and God is forgiving your sins. God does not hold your sins against you. You are not living under a cloud of shame any more. You belong to God’s family and nothing can separate you from God’s love.

Now it’s time for a conclusion: Time to look again at the concept of journey.

Let’s travel with Jesus and His Holy Spirit and His disciples as they travel on their journeys. We travel with Jesus when we lift up our hearts to the Lord and ask Him to carry our prayers into heaven. We travel with the Holy Spirit by bring the spirit of joy and hospitality to every person that we meet. And we travel with the disciples when we proclaim the Gospel to the World. We proclaim to the world the Good News that God loves each person.

I will close with two questions:

1. Do you really believe the Gospel which says that God loves you?

2. Do you tell your children and grandchildren and godchildren and neighbors that God loves them?

I will repeat those questions because they are so very important as we travel on our spiritual journey.

1. Do you really believe the Gospel which says that God loves you?

2. Do you tell your children and grandchildren and godchildren and neighbors that God loves them?

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