We celebrated Pentecost Sunday and we celebrated Memorial Day last weekend. Pentecost involves the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Memorial Day, of course is a time for all of us to honor, remember and pray for all those who died in military service for us, our nation, and for freedom’s sake.
During World War II, Joe Louis, the champion heavyweight boxer, was one of several celebrities scheduled to say a few words at a fundraising rally for the Navy Relief Society. “I was nervous” Louis said. “I did not know what to say.” Somebody told me the President would be listening on the radio, so I especially wanted to get my speech off to a good start. Just before I was called up to the microphone, I asked a friend sitting next to me how I ought to start off. He told me to say something upbeat about the war, like, “My fellow Americans, God is on our side!” I said “My fellow Americans, we are on God’s side.” Mr. Louis may have stumbled on the steps, but he did not stumble at the microphone. It is never a question of whether or not “God is on our side.” The Cross tells us that God is always on our side – to help, forgive and heal us. Rather, it is a question of whether or not we are on God’s side.
The Holy Spirit comes down from heaven to do something new, to enable us to be on God’s side. Unlike the words in the Frank Sinatra song “I Did It My Way,” life is not about doing it my way or your way. Life is about doing it God’s way.
Bishop Roger Gries mentioned to our Confirmation candidates that when he became Bishop, he had to visit other churches. He did not know where these churches were or how to get to them. He got a Garmin. A GPS that told him turn here, go left, go right, and go straight so he could get to his destination. On Pentecost we can think of the Holy Spirit as giving us a Global Positioning Satellite for Life. Before you do anything major it is always good to think and pray. Calm down inside and ask the Holy Spirit which way should I go…what turn should I make…what road should I travel?
The Holy Spirit through various gifts gives us the GPS for how we are to live our lives. We are called to approach the Holy Spirit in prayer, to quiet down, to ask what way should we go to be on God’s side.
I am gratefully and I thank you for the many ways in which you, the parishioners, are on God’s side in taking care of the poor. The Earthquake Relief, Catholic Charities, Operation Rice Bowl and St. Vincent DePaul Society are wonderful examples on how many of you have responded to be on God’s side.
I also greatly appreciate your support of our parish and the Diocesan Rooted in Faith/Forward in Hope Campaign. All of us are called to have a Stewardship perspective. In gratitude for God’s blessing, realizing all is a gift, all of us are called to share out time, talent and treasure. Recently, in reflection with the Finance Council and the Pastoral Council, we reflected upon the fact that it appears the overall collection is down $8000.00 this year. Being on God’s side means supporting God’s work. One suggestion was to ask people who give nothing to start giving something. Those who are already giving, to consider a modest increase of one dollar of more. Being on God’s side, as Joe Louis said means giving as God gives. On Memorial Day weekend, we remember those who gave their lives for us. It is good to reflect upon their sacrifice and then ask ourselves, “Where am I in terms of Sacrifice?”
The Ultimate Symbol is Jesus on the cross, giving His life for us. Being on God’s side means taking steps no matter how small to enter into sacrificial love.
In addition to sharing our financial resources with our parish, what does it mean to have our GPS working under the guidance of the Holy Spirit? What does it mean to be on God’s Side? In your thoughts, words and actions, periodically ask “Am I on God’s side?”
Some examples could be:
- Am I fully reconciled with everyone?
- Have I forgiven those who have hurt me?
- Can I seek positive, loving relationships with other people?
- Can I travel in directions and ways that I may be resisting because God is calling me?
To be on God’s side means to take steps no matter how small into the realm of sacrificial love. This is what Jesus did on the Cross. This is what thousands of men and women did in military service in giving their lives for us. We are called to honor the sacrifice of Christ. We are called to honor their sacrifices as well. How can I tell that I am on God’s side? It is in terms of honoring these sacrifices by making sacrifices in my life as well. The Holy Spirit gives us the guidance, the power, the motivation to make the sacrifice. Let us all pray “Come, Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Holy Spirit create me moment by moment so that I can become all you dreamt I could be.”