Today we celebrate the birthday of the Church. Jesus’ mission takes on a new life as the Holy Spirit fills the faithful with the gifts needed to continue Jesus’ work in the world. Now it is up to the Church to be the presence of Christ in the world.
The Pentecost readings today take us back to when the disciples were gathered on the first Easter evening, locked up in fear in the upper room. They were deeply troubled. Their worry and anxiety paralyzed them from living freely. Jesus appeared to them and offered them the gift of peace, one of the first fruits of his Spirit. It was a precious gift that freed them, and inspired them to move on in their lives.
That same Spirit is given to us through our Baptism and Confirmation. It is now our turn to courageously proclaim our faith openly so that others may hear. We are the living Church whose birthday we celebrate today. The next year of life for the Church is in our hands. The Spirit is here to strengthen and guide us in all that we do in the name of Jesus.
How do we know that the Holy Spirit is present here at Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parishes? What are the visible signs of God’s presence working in our community? Often I notice it alive and active in our moments of prayer, especially when we gather around the table of the Lord to share in the Eucharist. It is visible in the help and service we give to others, especially those in need. I see it in the welcome and hospitality we extend to those who are new or just visiting our community. I know it is present when our adults teach our children about the Catholic faith, and draw them closer into the Jesus story. It is most present when we extend our compassion to those who are grieving and in need of comfort and healing, particularly those in nursing homes and in hospitals.
May we be open to the power of the Holy Spirit, Breathe it in! Inhale it! Let it fill our lives.
Last Saturday, I talked to Curtis who is one of the volunteers at our Food Pantry. I asked him, “How are things going at the Food Pantry?” He mentioned that on a given Saturday morning there are about 23 persons who come to the pantry for assistance. He went on to say that the Pantry right now is in real need of clothing.
This is a good time for some spring-cleaning of our closets. I am sure we all have stuff hanging around that we have not worn in years. Is there something you can contribute to the Food Pantry?
Clothing donations to the ICSJ Food Pantry may be dropped off at St. Joseph on Monday and Wednesday from 9am-2pm; and at Immaculate Conception on Monday through Friday from 9am-2pm. Anything you can offer will be a blessing and a gift.
It’s Not About the Hotdog
The Memorial Day weekend is often viewed as the start of the summer vacation season. Gas grills are fired up for the first time on the patio or deck. The first hotdog and burger taste their best. Flowers might be planted in the pots around the house, which is a bold sign that the misery that came with winter has thankfully passed.
But let us not forget what Memorial Day is really about. We pause to remember the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. The national holiday originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in military service.
Much of the freedom we enjoy today is due to the thousands of men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. Our liberty and justice, which are hallmarks of our nation, are rooted in the service they have given to their country.
On Monday pause to say prayer of thanksgiving for our loved ones who have died, and may God continue to bless America.