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Monsignor Yennock's Homily June 4, 2017 - Pentecost Sunday

Jun 5, 2017

PENTECOST SUNDAY 2017

JUNE 4, 2017

 

IN EAST BERLIN BEFORE THE BERLIN WALL CAME TUMBLING DOWN, THE COMMUNISTS BUILT A GIANT TELEVISION TOWER ABOVE THE SKYLINE OF EAST BERLIN. JUST BELOW THE TIP OF THE TOWER WAS A REVOLVING RESTAURANT. THE COMMUNISTS MEANT FOR THIS TOWER TO BE A SHOWPLACE TO IMPRESS THE WESTERN NATIONS.

INSTEAD A STRANGE FLUKE IN THE DESIGN TURNED THE TOWER INTO A HUGE SHIMMERING CROSS. WHENEVER THE SUN HITS THAT TOWER IN A CERTAIN WAY FOR MILES AROUND, YOU CAN SEE THIS CROSS. YOU CAN IMAGINE THE EMBARRSSMENT FOR THE COMMUNISTS. NO WAY WERE THEY ABLE TO CHANGE THE EFFECT AND GET RID OF THE IMAGE OF THE CROSS.

ANOTHER UNEXPECTED EMBARRASSMENT CAME UPON THE LEADERS IN JERUSALEM AFTER THE CRUCIFIXION OF JESUS. THE OFFICIALS HOPED THAT ONCE THEY PUT JESUS TO DEATH THEY WOULD PUT AN END TO THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT. YOU CAN IMAGINE HOW ANGRY AND EMBARRASSED THEY WERE WHEN JUST THE OPPOSITE HAPPENED.

WHEN THE CHRISTIANS WALKED AWAY FROM THE EMPTY TOMB ON EASTER SUNDAY ALL THEY COULD THINK OF WAS JESUS IS ALIVE. THE RESURRECTION TURNED OUT TO BE A STUNNING EVENT. EVEN WITHOUT FACEBOOK, CHRISTIANS WERE SPRINGING UP EVERYWHERE. THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT SPREAD LIKE A RAGING FOREST FIRE.

THE FIRE WAS IGNITED AT PENTECOST. THE HOLY SPIRIT OF JESUS MADE HIMSELF KNOWN WHEN A LOUD SOUND OF A STRONG DRIVING WIND WAS HEARD AND TONGUES OF FIRE SWIRLED ABOUT RESTING ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE DISCIPLES.

NO LONGER PARALYZED WITH FEAR THE DISCIPLES RAN OUT INTO THE STREETS OF JERUSALEM ON THE BUSIEST DAY OF THE YEAR. PILGRIMS FROM ALL OVER THE KNOWN WORLD JAMMED THE STREETS.  AFTER PETER ANNOUNCED THAT JESUS WAS ALIVE 3000 PEOPLE WERE BAPTIZED.

THE BELIEVERS CARRIED THE FAITH TO MOST OF THE CITIES AND COUNTRIES IN THE KNOWN WORLD. CHRISTIANITY WAS ON THE MOVE.

GOD PROMISED TO “POUR OUT” HIS SPIRIT. HE MEANT THAT LITERALLY. GOD OPENED THE FLOODGATES OF HEAVEN. THE HOLY SPIRIT BREATHED NOT ONLY OVER THE WATER BUT OVER THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.

THE ROMAN EMPIRE WAS FACED A NEW CHALLENGE—THEY NOTICED THAT SOME PEOPLE IN THE EMPIRE WERE DEFYING THE EMPEROR, AND ROMAN LAW. THEY REFUSED TO BURN INCENSE TO CEASAR. NO WAY WOULD THEY SAY “CEASAR IS LORD”. INSTEAD THEY BURNED INCENSE TO GOD. THE HOLY SPIRIT MOVED THEM TO SAY: “JESUS IS LORD.”

BY THE YEAR 64 A.D. ENFLAMED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS BECAME AN EMBARRASSMENT TO ROME. HISTORY RECORDS THAT THE EMPEROR NERO WAGED AN ALL OUT WAR AGAINST CHRISTIANS.

THOSE WHO WERE CAUGHT WERE MARCHED INTO THE COLOSEUM TO FACE HUNGRY LIONS AND CERTAIN DEATH. THE PAGANS WERE ASTONISHED TO HEAR THEM SINGING JOYFUL SONGS ON THEIR WAY TO MARYTRDOM. THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WAS ALIVE IN THEM.

THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT WAS NOT LIKE THE COMMUNIST REVOLUTION OR THE SOCIALIST REVOLUTION THAT ENSLAVED AND MURDERED 100 MILLION PEOPLE. THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT WAS NOT LIKE THE FRENCH REVOLUTION THAT WENT MAD WITH HATE. THE SPIRIT OF LOVE WAS ITS DRIVING FORCE.

IN THE CHRISTIAN REVOLUTION ONLY ONE MAN ENTERED THE BATTLE AGAINST EVEL. THE BLOOD OF ONE MAN BROUGHT DIVINE LIFE TO THE HUMAN RACE.

THE SPIRIT OF JESUS WAS SO POWERFUL THAT EVENTUALLY THE CHURCH INFLUENCED THE FRAMEWORK OF SOCIETY. WE CALL THAT SOCIETY WESTERN CIVILIZATION. THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKED WITHIN THAT FRAMEWORK, NOT ONLY TO BUILD UP THE CHURCH BUR TO CHANGE THE ATTITUDE OF HISTORY.

WHENEVER IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY YOU SEE MARVELOUS WORKS OF MERCY AND COMPASSION YOU WILL SEE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF JESUS AT WORK.

THIS WAS NEVER MORE EVIDENT THAN DURING THE NAZI HOLOCAUST. PRIESTS AND NUNS RESCUED THOUSANDS OF JEWS FROM EXTERMINATION.

THE HOLOCAUST WAS A SIN AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT. IT IS A STORY OF INDESCRIBABLE TRAGEDY AND HORROR. IT MUST NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

NO NATION EVER ATTEMPTED THE SYSTEMATIC MASS MURDER OF PEOPLE AS DID GERMANY IN WORLD WAR II. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT 11 MILLION PEOPLE WERE VICTIMS OF NAZI GENOCIDE.  6 MILLION VICTIMS WERE JEWISH. THE OTHERS WERE GYPSIES, CHRISTIANS WHO RESISTED AND ANYBODY WHO WAS A THREAT TO THE STATE.

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND THE UNFIT WERE CAUGHT UP IN A CRUEL GENOCIDE. HOW MANY PEOPLE KNOW THAT MARGARET SANGER, THE FOUNDER OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD, WAS A WILLING ACCOMPLICE TO GENOCIDE?

IN THOSE TIMES OF CHAOS, IT WAS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND DIFFICULT TO ORGANIZE RESCUE ACTIVITIES. THE NAZI GESTAPO AND SECRET POLICE WERE VIGILANT AND QUICK TO PUNISH ANYONE WHO TRIED TO SAVE JEWISH PEOPLE. AWARE OF THE TERROR AND CRUELTY OF THE NAZI REGIME, THE CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND NUNS WHO ENGAGED IN RESCUE ACTIVITIES DID SO AT THE RISK OF THEIR OWN LIVES.

RESCUE ACTIVITIES INVOLVED MANY PEOPLE. THEY HAD TO HIDE PEOPLE SO THEY COULD HELP THEM ESCAPE. THEY PROVIDED FALSE IDENTITIES, FOOD AND SHELTER. ALL ACTIVITIES HAD TO BE CARRIED OUT IN SECRET. THE GESTAPO WAS EVER ON THE WATCH. IF EVER THERE WAS EVIDENCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT AT WORK AGAINST EVIL IT WAS IN THE RESCUES DURING THE HOLOCAUST.

WHEN RESCUERS WERE ARRESTED THEY WERE SENT TO CONCENTRATION CAMPS AND PRISONS. MANY WERE KILLED. THE STORIES OF THE HEROIC PRIESTS AND NUNS WHO RISKED THEIR LIVES TO RESCUE JEWISH PEOPLE HAVE BEEN DOCUMENTED, THEY HAVE BEEN HONORED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, THE YAD VASHEM, AND THE HOLOCAUST DOCUMENTATION CENTER IN ISRAEL.

THESE STORIES ARE NEVER AS WELL KNOWN AS THEY DESERVE TO BE. THEY

MUST NEVER BE FORGOTTEN. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT MUST NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT ITALY WAS GERMANY’S ALLY ON THE BATTLEFIELDS, MANY PRIESTS AND NUNS IN ITALY WERE DEEPLY INVOLVED IN RESCUE ACTIVITIES. WITH THE APPROVAL OF POPE PIUS XII 155 CATHOLIC INSTITUTIONS, CONVENTS, MONASTERIES, ORPHAN HOMES, AND HOSPITALS IN ITALY OPENED THEIR DOORS TO JEWISH REFUGEES. WE WILL NEVER KNOW THE FULL STORY OF HOW THE MAJORITY OF ITALIAN JEWS WERE SAVED FROM THE HOLOCAUST.

A LARGE RESCUE EFFORT TOOK PLACE IN ASSISI, THE BIRTHPLACE OF ST. FRANCIS, JEWISH PEOPLE WERE HIDDEN IN MONASTERIES AND CHURCHES IN ASSISI AND THE SURROUNDING COUNTRYSIDE.

SHORTLY AFTER THE NAZIS INVADED ITALY, THE RECTOR OF THE SEMINARY OF SAINT DAMIANO MADE THE BASILICA OF ASSISI A HIDING PLACE FOR MORE THAN 300 JEWISH REFUGEES AND HELPED THEM ESCAPE. NOT ONE OF THE 300 REFUGEES SHELTERED BY THE SEMINARY WAS CAPTURED.

THOUSANDS OF JEWISH REFUGEES FROM POLAND, GERMANY AND OTHER COUNTRIES WERE FLEEING TO THE SOUTH OF FRANCE. WHEN THE VICHY GOVERNMENT BEGAN ITS RUTHLESS MANHUNT FOR JEWISH REFUGEES, A CAPUCHIN FATHER WELCOMED THEM TO THE CAPUCHIN MONASTERY IN MARSEILLE. HE ARRANGED HIDING PLACES AND PLANNED THEIR ESCAPE INTO SWITZERLAND AND SPAIN.

THE GERMANS OCCUPIED FRANCE IN JUNE 1940. THE VICHY FASCIST GOVERNMENT COLLABORATED WITH THE NAZIS. THE POLICE WERE RUTHLESS. TO A LARGE DEGREE, THE WAR AGAINST THE JEWS OF FRANCE WAS A WAR AGAINST CHILDREN. BETWEEN 1942 AND 1944, 11,401 CHILDREN WERE DEPORTED TO NAZI DEATH CAMPS. NEARLY 12,000 CHILDREN WERE RESCUED BY PRIESTS AND NUNS.

THE FATHERS OF ST. FRANCIS, A CATHOLIC SEMINARY CLOSE TO THE SWISS BORDER HELPED MANY PEOPLE ESCAPE. THE PRIESTS AND SEMINARIANS ENABLED HUNDREDS OF REFUGEES, MOST OF THEM JEWS, TO ESCAPE INTO SWITZERLAND. THEY HAD TO BE CONSTANTLY ON GUARD. ONE OF THE PRIESTS WAS BETRAYED AND WAS EXECUTED IN 1944. THE SEMINARY WAS CLOSED.

IN BELGIUM A BENEDICTINE MONK WORKED WITH JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS AND PLACED HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN IN HOMES AND CHURCHES IN THE LIEGE REGION OF BELGIUM. THE GESTAPO LEARNED OF HIS ACTIVITIES AND HE HAD TO GO INTO HIDING. THIS BENEDICTINE MONK SAVED THE LIVES OF MORE THAN 300 CHILDREN AND 116 ADULTS. AFTER THE WAR, THE PRIEST SEARCHED FOR THEIR PARENTS AND REUNITED AS MANY AS HE COULD WITH THEIR FAMILIES.

IN POLAND, ASSISTANCE TO JEWS WAS MADE A CRIME PUNISHABLE BY DEATH. YET NUNS IN MORE THAN 300 INSTITUTIONS SHELTERED JEWS IN CONVENTS AND SCHOOLS. FALSE BAPTISMAL CERTIFICATES HAD TO BE OBTAINED FOR EVERY CHILD. THEIR NAMES HAD TO BE CHANGED.

WHILE WE ADMIRE THE FAITH AND THE COURAGE OF THESE SISTERS AND PRIESTS AND LAY PEOPLE WHO RESCUED THE OPPRESSED WE ARE NOT SURPRISED TO FIND THE SPIRIT OF COMPASSION FROM THOSE WHO WERE COMMITTED TO THE SPIRIT OF JESUS.

THE CHURCH TODAY IS THE CHURCH OF PENTECOST. IT IS A SHARING, WORSHIPPING, JOYFUL CHURCH. THE HOLY SPIRIT CONTINUES TO WORK IN HER THROUGH THE SACRAMENTS, THE MASS, AND WORKS OF MERCY. 

IF WE THINK THE HOLY SPIRIT IS FAR AWAY IT IS BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE WE PUT HIM. STRANGE, WE KEEP HIM AT A DISTANCE; THEN WHEN WE NEED HIM AND CALL ON HIM WE WONDER WHERE HE IS. HE IS EXACTLY WHERE WE LEFT HIM. COME HOLY SPIRIT.

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