Festival of Peoples Homily

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Pentecost Sunday FESTIVAL OF PEOPLES 2014

Homily Notes of Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin Archbishop of Dublin

Pro-Cathedral, 8th June 2014

“This evening we, the Church in Dublin, celebrate with Catholic believers from many parts of the world who have come to make their home here in Ireland and to enrich us with their heritage and their contribution to the economic, social and cultural fabric of Irish society.  The Church in Ireland is enriched by the diversity of people that are here as part of our community. 

I greet each and every one of you.  I greet your chaplains.  I greet the diplomatic representatives of some of the countries you come from.  I greet especially the children and young people.

The rich ethnic diversity which is a growing characteristic of today’s Ireland has also brought about religious renewal.  So many of those who have come to our shores are profoundly religious and see their faith as part of their identity and of their contribution to society

As Christians, we see the Feast of Pentecost as a feast of renewal, renewal in faith and renewal of society. It is the Spirit who renews the face of the earth.     At moments when we experience uncertainty and insecurity in our faith, it is the spirit who is with us to overcome our fragility and fear.   At moments when we may feel we are making no progress, that there is little vitality in our faith-life and in the faith-life of our communities, we must turn to the Spirit who is Lord and giver of life.

The renewal that the Spirit brings to our Church is never just a sociological exercise.  The mark of spirit-filled renewal is that unity which the Spirit alone can bring.   The Spirit brings courage, and touches and renews our hearts and reaches through us but beyond us to renew the face of the earth.

As happened at the first Pentecost, still today the Spirit releases the power of Jesus’ resurrection into our world made up of people of many origins and ethnicities.  The spirit recognises the differences and the richness which diversity represents, but the spirit also brings about a renewed sense of and desire for unity.

In our prayer we remember the special initiative of Pope Francis who this afternoon – along with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople – gathers with the Presidents of Israel and Palestine to pray for peace in the Holy Places.

Scripture scholars draw our attention at Pentecost to the biblical story of the Tower of Babel which illustrates just how quickly the unity of humankind can be damaged and divided by human greed and by the borderless craving for power. Empty projects founded on greed and power-seeking eventually collapse and bring not just ruin to those who were deceived by them, but bring division and damage to the entire fabric of society.   We have seen in our own days how uncontrolled greed and self-centeredness and corruption are not only the evil actions of individuals, but they have still today the same effect as at the time of the Tower of Babel of dividing and destroying community and leaving those most in need in ever deeper distress.

Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit is presented in the scriptures as precisely the opposite movement to what happened at Babel.  The Apostles went out into the streets of Jerusalem preaching the Good News of the risen Jesus to people who had come from every part of the known world and they all understood the words of the Apostles in their own language.  The Spirit heals the divisions which human ambition destroyed.   The gift of the Spirit at Pentecost shows that the disunity caused by naked human ambition can be healed and that true communication can be re-established in the human family.

          Any concept of the unity of humankind must be based on respect for the equal dignity of every man and women and child in our society.  Where the Church fosters unity it fulfils its mission.  Where that understanding of unity and respect for the equal dignity of each person is weakened or overlooked in practice then division emerges and the dignity of the weakest becomes obscured.  When the Church in any way weakens in the way it shows respects each individual human being, especially children and those who are weak or ostracised, then the Church betrays its mission and betrays Jesus himself.

The sign of the presence of the Spirit in any community is precisely how well we communicate in the deepest sense of that word.  The presence of the Spirit is to be seen in how we speak to each other and recognise in each other, with all out differences, that we are truly bothers and sisters and that we share responsibility for each other.   A Spirit-filled people will always be a people of respect and love and care and support for each other, especially the poorest and the abandoned, the forgotten and those who society considers on its margins.

We must never forget that Jesus is there in those who suffer, in those who are ostracised, in those who fail and fall into sin, in those who seek the meaning of life, and it is among those who are on the margins that we learn the weakness and the false certainties of many of our own ideas of faith.

On this Feast of Pentecost it is good for us to be together and we pray that the Holy Spirit will strengthen us in our resolve to be witnesses to that unity of all human kind through how we live and how we work together to renew the face of society. ENDS