Dear Parishioners,

Throughout Christian history mystics and spiritual writers have at times referred to the Holy Spirit as “the Kiss of God.” It is a striking image, because it conveys not only the truth that God is love but it pictures that love in action. It says that the Love of God touches our lives in an intimate way. So, believing in the Holy Spirit, is believing that God has touched us personally and deeply.

What does this touch of God’s Spirit entail? St. Paul is helpful here. He says in today’s second reading, “No one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Holy Spirit.” This is Paul’s way of saying that our faith is a gift. If we say we believe in Christ, it is not because we are smarter than, or holier than, or better than other people who do not believe. We are able to believe because God has gifted us with the Holy Spirit who allows faith to happen. This is important. We are sitting in this church today because of God’s gift. Sometimes we think, “I come to church, I am a believer because that is the way I was brought up, or because I want to do what’s right, or because I have an inclination toward the spiritual.” All these things can be true, but the fundamental reason that we are here is because God has given the Spirit to us which allows us to believe. We have been kissed by God.

And the Spirit comes bearing other gifts. Again, Paul is helpful. He says, “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each individual for some benefit.” When the Spirit gives us faith, the Spirit also brings individual gifts which we can use. This is important because sometimes we may be tempted to think that we have no gifts and nothing to offer. Usually when we say “I don’t have any gifts,” we are really saying, “I don’t have his gift or her gift.” But we do have our gift. Paul is insistent. If we have faith, we also have been given something that we can offer. It might be our intelligence, our ability to connect with people, our talent for speaking and explaining things, our openness to listen, or our skill in getting things done. There is no ungifted person. Every person in this church today has a gift. It is our responsibility to own that gift and to use it.

This leads us to the last point. We are called to use the gift we have been given not only for our benefit, but to build the Kingdom of God. We are called to use our abilities not only to earn a living and make ourselves comfortable (although there is nothing wrong with that), but also to serve God’s purposes. We are called to be sure that our gift is used to serve our family, our church, and our world. We must make a difference in the life of others.

So, we are sitting in church on this Pentecost weekend because God has given us the Spirit who allows us to believe. At the same time each of us has been given a gift to use for the sake of God’s Kingdom. Now, then, is the time to own our gift and use it. Or to put it another way: Since God has kissed us, it is time for us to kiss back.

Fr. Monteleone

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