Fr Thomas’ Homily for Pentecost Sunday

You Change the Face of the Earth

We have been seeing the agony of the people in the besieged parts of Ukraine. The people there are traumatised by the war around them and the images of the people locked up in their homes for the fear of the atrocities happening around them is heart breaking.  Imagine you walking into one of those rooms, saying “G’day mate!”  How will that be taken?

Jesus was caught and cruelly crucified to death in Jerusalem during the feast of Passover attended by huge crowds from everywhere.  The disciples felt helpless to defend their master and ran for their life.  After the death of Jesus, they shut themselves in a room for the fear that they too will be caught and killed.  To the room full of fear, Jesus burst in and says, “shalom” (meaning “good on you” or “peace to you”).  It might sound absurd, but in reality it was profound.  Jesus who was tortured and killed has come to the disciples in his glory as resurrected Christ.  The normal human nature would be to conclude the scene with a celebration of the victory of Jesus over death.  But Our Lord did something different and amazing.  He breathed on the disciples just like God’s Spirit breathed on the chaotic state in the beginning and created a beautiful world out of it (Gen 1-1-2). That is what we read in the first book of Bible, Genesis. Similarly, Jesus breathed on the terrified disciples and made them a new creation. The greeting of “shalom” to them was not without any meaning or consequence.  Jesus’ greeting brought “good on them”.  It not only brought joy to the disciples, but empowered them to change the face of the earth.  They were enabled to forgive sins. 

If any time or any part of the world is like hell, it is due to sin. Overpowering sin and bringing the love and glory of God to all those who are in need of it is what disciples of Christ can do best.  Mother Teresa went to Kolkata and overpowered the sin of humanity who abandoned the elderly and the babies in the streets.  She showed the world that she was empowered by the Holy Spirit to change of the face of Kolkata into a ‘city of joy’.  Mother did not seek to punish the evil doers for their sinful actions or neglect.  She was strong enough to uphold the dignity of the dying, the abandoned babies, and the unwed mothers.  She forgave the perpetrators and brought ‘peace’ to ‘the terrified’.  The downtrodden of Kolkata and many others started to know our God as a God of mercy and compassion.  Seeing her ministry many more became disciples of Christ, inaugurating our church again. Just as the early disciples made the beginnings of the Church, the Spirit filled Christians of our time too continue to inaugurate the Church.  The birth of Church is an ongoing process.  You and I are to make it happen.  Can you recollect the times you could change the fate of someone and change the face their world?  When is the last time you realised God’s Spirit working through you, and impacting on your family, friends and your surroundings?