Leave Some Room for the Holy Spirit
Homily for the Solemnity of Pentecost
Preached on May 22-23, 2010 at Holy Spirit Parish/The Newman Center at the University of Kentucky, Lexington KY
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31-34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20:19-23
There are few things in this world as heavily monitored as a dance in a Catholic school. That is what I remember from my high school prom at Holy Angel: all the gym lights were fully lit and our teachers were watching over us from the bleachers like buzzards eyeing their prey. No one dared to move in any manner remotely provocative. Those who did got called out by the principal from the microphone or, worse, were approached by the Religion teacher with a tap on the shoulder and a reminder to “leave some room for the Holy Spirit.”
This is the same reminder we receive today on Pentecost: leave some room for the Holy Spirit. Leave some room for the gifts and grace that come from above. Leave some room for the peace and forgiveness that breathe new life.
Unfortunately, like the disciples on that first Easter evening, we lock ourselves from everyone else, including God (cf. Jn. 20:19). We get so locked into our own opinions and our prejudices, our theologies and our politics, our grudges and our hurts, that fear and distrust take up all the room in our hearts and in our lives and crowd out God and the rest of God’s people.
That is why today we are called again to leave some room for the Holy Spirit who alone will lead us from fear to faith, from despair to hope, from being closed in to being opened up. Once we leave room for the Spirit, He will take care of making room in our lives for everyone else, just as He drew to the disciples the Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, and Rome, the Cretans and Arabs, on that first Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:9-11) and brought them all together in one place (Acts 2:1). The Holy Spirit will move our hearts and remove from them all petty divisions and distinctions: race, gender, and age, political parties, languages, and nationalities, status symbols and pay grades; all these get thrown out the window. “For in one Spirit, we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,” white, black, brown, yellow, or red; young, middle aged, or old; male or female; Republican, Democrat, or Independent; rich, middle class, or poor; a US citizen or an immigrant; “and we were all given to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).
Today, we are called to leave fear and division at the door and instead let God in. There is plenty of room around here for the Holy Spirit to work with and, knowing Him, if we let the door ajar just a little, He will rush in like a strong driving wind, fill the entire house, (cf. Acts 2:2) and still make more room in our hearts.