Renewed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost

Homily for Pentecost

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Imagine how the apostles and disciples felt after Jesus ascended. We can imagine they felt emptiness and maybe even fear. But they gathered in prayer, praying for the coming of the Comforter or the Advocate as Jesus called the Holy Spirit (John 14:16.26). The Holy Spirit came and transformed them. After receiving the Holy Spirit they had the power of Jesus and had the courage to continue the ministry of Jesus.

One person who experienced the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Jesus coming to her in a profound way that totally changed her life was Sr. Emmanuel in Medjugorje. She grew up in a good Catholic family but as a teenager while attending a boarding school in Paris she began mixing with girls who were using spirit boards and Ouija boards. They did it for hours every week. It was a fascination for them. At this time Emmanuel began to lose her sleep and could not sleep properly at night any more. She used the boards with her companions for two years until she left boarding school. Sometime afterwards she went to India setting up some business between India and Paris. She was asked to go to an astrologer to see if the business plans were good. He interpreted everything in her life as if it were all controlled by the movement of the planets. She said the astrologer sowed seeds of despair in her heart because he implied everything in her life was written in the sky instead of being a gift from God. She said that interpretation of her life cut her off from the love and care and tenderness of God. She couldn’t care less what way the planets moved and she felt like an orphan. In the months after that she experienced things she had never before experienced; nightmares, words of hatred against her family and friends, she wasn’t attracted by food any more, she was tortured more and more by anxiety. She lost the desire to continue living. Her sister came to her and said that she had been to a Catholic prayer group in Paris and that everything in the Acts of the Apostles is real, the miracles and the coming of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that it happens now also. The next day was Pentecost. Emmanuel went to the prayer group and noticed that the young people there were so full of joy and the Holy Spirit. She said there was something heavenly about them but as she sat beside them she felt like hell beside heaven. She felt imprisoned. She remembered a prayer she had said a long time ago when she was young; she had prayed that here on earth she would meet people like those in the Acts of the Apostles. She said if she met people like them she would go with them and give herself to God 100%. But now that she met them she felt it was too late. During the prayer meeting a woman spoke under the influence of the Holy Spirit saying there was a woman present going to death because a long time ago the devil took hold of her when she began to use Ouija boards and divination, and the speaker asked her to go to the leaders and ask for prayer since God has the power to free her from Satan. Emmanuel went to them for prayer and the woman said that Jesus through his cross and resurrection has the power to heal her and make her joyful and happy and peaceful. It was the first time she had heard someone say that Jesus could touch her heart now. They prayed powerful prayers of liberation over her invoking the name of Jesus and she felt her anxiety and torture and despair going. She felt rivers of cleansing water going through her. In this she experienced her first deep encounter with the living Jesus. She said she had been doing her will instead of God’s will which was why Satan acted with such power in her life. Then she gave her life to God 100% and that was her first commitment to Jesus.

I was reminded of what happened to Sr. Emmanuel in Paris on Pentecost Sunday some years ago by our celebration of Pentecost today. The apostles and disciples gathered in prayer also received new life on the first Pentecost as we heard in the first reading (Acts 2:1-11). Sr. Emmanuel also received new life through the Holy Spirit. She had previously wanted to meet people like those in the Acts of the Apostles and on that Sunday afternoon she met them during the prayer meeting. Her life was changed from hell to heaven by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Without the Holy Spirit we have no life in us, with the Holy Spirit we have the life of Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit we become closed in but with the Holy Spirit we reach out in mission to others. Without the Holy Spirit we return to the Upper Room in fear and anxiety but with the Holy Spirit we leave the Upper Room and witness to Jesus to the ends of the earth. Let us pray today for ourselves and the entire Church that we may all be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I found the information about Sr. Emmanuel in an interview she gave which has been recorded on a cassette tape entitled From Astrology to God's Light.

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost - the Spirit helping us

Living as authentic followers of Jesus will help many to come to follow Jesus (Year B)

Related Homilies: How can we receive the Holy Spirit to raise us up?

my meditation on Pentecost in Let’s Talk to Jesus