As a baseball announcer watches a batted ball leaving the field, he or she will often use the expression, “Going, going…gone!” to describe the home run. And as we have now watched the life, death, resurrection and sending of the Spirit by Jesus over these last 90 or so days of both Lent and Easter, we can say, “Giving, giving…gift!” to describe the home run of Christian living that we have been given.
Jesus’ earthly life was one of constant giving of self, an inner and outer emptying in service to God and neighbor, especially the neighbor on the margins. He gave and gave and gave on this earth until there was nothing left, except the eternal gift of himself through the Holy Spirit. At today’s inflection point — the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost — we celebrate the giving of that Holy Spirit, the gift of the Spirit of Christ, to the whole Church and to every member.
Just in our readings alone today, we learn that it’s a giving that produces unity from diversity, peace and forgiveness from fear, an abundance of spiritual gifts and forms of service from the same Spirit.
Giving, giving…gift. This explains so much, as Pope Francis said in his Pentecost homily three years ago. The pope said, “It is important to believe that God is gift, that he acts not by taking away, but by giving…if we have in our hearts a God who is gift, everything changes. If we realize that we are his gift, free and unmerited, then we too will want to make our lives a gift. By loving humbly, serving freely and joyfully, we will offer to the world the true image of God.” (May 31, 2020)
Giving, giving …gift. When we experience this secret of the Spirit personally, we are really onto something in our discipleship.
Before we proclaimed the Gospel today, we proclaimed the Pentecost sequence, which is a vivid call for the Spirit to come anew, bending our stubborn hearts and bestowing sevenfold gifts. But ultimately we don’t want to rely on someone else’s words, poetic as they are, we want to invite the giving and the gift of the Spirit ourselves.
I don’t want to leave it there, with pressure on you to come up with your own words. Let’s end with hopefully an inspiring example from how the spiritual writer Joyce Rupp calls upon the Spirit to help us give and live the gift:
Come like a sweeping wind through my being. Gather the best of my love to your expansive love. Carry this on the wide wings of your sacred breath to places, people, and creatures crying out to be freed from whatever it is that chides, hurts, and worries them.
Stir up a passionate vision for a positive future. Vibrate in my spirit and transmit your message through the uncertain steps of my pathway. Increase hope for a peaceful unity of spirit to grow stronger within our troubled humanity.