A birthday party and nobody came!

Not too many sadder images than that.  It is hard to focus upon what is more pathetic:  a person who has so few friends that a birthday musters no one; a person whose so called friends didn’t care enough to come;  the image of all of the party trappings sitting, just waiting for revelers to sing and eat the cake.  It almost makes me cry.  Poor planning?  Just should have made the party on a more convenient date?  Whatever the case, no one deserves such a fate.  Not even the Holy Spirit!

This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.  And because of where it falls in the calendar, it always seems to me to have the flavor of a vacant birthday party.  Ask most Catholics when the Church was born and I wonder how many know.  Ask many Catholics when Pentecost occurs and I wonder how many know.  Ask most Catholics what Pentecost means and I wonder how many know.  Who is more pathetic, us or God?  God held a party and who came?  Jesus comes and we celebrate for weeks.  The Holy Spirit comes and few mark the date.  No wonder that we have yet to fully experience the glory of the Holy Spirit – we fail to appreciate what his coming really means.

I was speaking with a friend recently who was describing the Confirmation preparation program at her parish for her two daughters.  It was fraught with requirements and seemingly endless hours of community service.  I wonder if this exercise of jumping through hoops had its desired effect.  Is that how to plan a party for the Holy Spirit?  I’m thinking not.

Christ sends us his Spirit to be his presence in our midst.  Christ empowers us with his Spirit to continue to co-create a new heaven and a new earth.  Jesus leaves us capable of building the Kingdom of God with his Spirit that emboldened the disciples to face death rather than not proclaim the glory of Christ risen from the dead.  When I consider my own lack luster attempts to proclaim the Good News, I can’t help but see a failure on my part to welcome the Holy Spirit to the party.  Let’s begin anew to celebrate what the Church was born and is called to be – a people united in Christ and excited to live lives that proclaim the glory of God’s reign.  If that isn’t a party worth our time and celebration, then we may not be fit for the big party in heaven!  Come this Sunday and every Sunday thereafter ready to sing and eat cake!


Fr. Mike
fr.mike@duke.edu  c. 919-316-8763 / w. 919-684-1882
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