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New bishop an opportunity to create
a new Pentecost

Spiritual fruits of
dealing with 'the
thorn in the flesh'

Reflections

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placeholder June 10, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA
Letters from Readers
New bishop an opportunity to create a new Pentecost

Most Rev. Michael C. Barber, SJ, meets with Archbishop Alex J. Brunett at an evening vesper service May 24 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light.
josÉ luis aguirre/The Catholic Voice

As we gather today to celebrate this feast of Pentecost we listened together to the description given to us in the Acts of the Apostles describing this dramatic scene. Gathered together, the Apostles experienced a new burst of energy, a new threshold of hope and a new surge of commitment to the ministry of proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ.

We are told that "suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them." Wind and Fire. What great symbols for the renewal of faith and ministry.

This week we all hope to experience a new Wind and Fire — a new Pentecost in our diocese as we transition to the leadership of our new bishop-elect, Michael Barber. At the same time I will be returning to retirement after spending the last eight months as your apostolic administrator. It has been a wonderful experience for me and I have been enriched by your many kindnesses. Being here and working with you has been one of the joys of my life. This is truly a diocese of sunshine, joy, promise, possibility and hope. Here one can discover such potential, such untapped energy, such possibility for the life of the Church.

I thank all of you for your dedication and caring, your love and compassion, especially that directed toward me. The arrival of a new bishop creates an opportunity for a new Pentecost, a new time of hope. In the words of Pope John Paul II, a time to cross again the threshold of Hope.

He said: "For centuries, people have tried to experience that same Wind and Fire, to celebrate a new Pentecost." We do so today as well, in our own lives, in our communities of faith, in our local Church in Oakland. We need to face this time of transition as a time of grace, a time of hope, a time of passion and promise. It is a time to embrace again the Wind and Fire of the first Pentecost.

However, if there is going to be a new Pentecost, if we are going to cross the threshold of hope, we must confront the culture of violence that affects every part of our lives.

Violence begins in our hearts long before it reaches our streets. It begins with anger, intolerance, impatience, unfair judgments and aggression. It is often reflected in our language, our entertainment, our driving, our competitive behavior and the way we treat our environment.

It will require that we work to strengthen the family, eradicate discrimination, fight pornography and sexual exploitation, eliminate poverty, provide teens with alternatives to the lure of gangs, help those with addictions and ensure proper educational and employment opportunities for all.

When we confront the culture of violence, then the Wind and the Fire are stirring up in us a new power, a new Pentecost. We move closer to the threshold of hope —crossing to the brightness that draws us. If we are willing to do this then we can be moved forward by that Wind and Fire down the corridors of life with joyful anticipation.

Christ tells us that He implants His Spirit in us so that our joy can be complete.

Joy is something very personal. It is not created by the insatiable quests for things or pleasures. Joy is found within us. It motivates us, giving us the ability to see God's gracious and loving hand at work in all we do. Joy keeps reminding us to ask the right questions about our lives and attitudes.

When we have turned our back on the culture of violence and live with the joy of anticipation, then we have arrived at the threshold of hope. The door is open, we are called. Will the Wind and Fire of Pentecost carry us through it? We are a Eucharistic people who gather together to celebrate this event of great significance — an ongoing and enduring proclamation of the redeeming life of Jesus Christ. United with Christ in every Eucharist, we unite with each other. Bishop and people, we unite with the whole apostolic church, with Peter and his successors. United in every Eucharist we create the context of a new Pentecost experience — the Wind and Fire of God Spirit. United in every Eucharist we celebrate the joy that leads to hope. When we celebrate the Bread of life, we know that there is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is our all and works through all and is in all. "We achieve the unity of the Church which has the Spirit as its origin and peace as its binding force.

As I conclude my time here in Oakland I thank you again for your support and kindness. I ask for your prayers and I invite you to walk together as you allow yourselves to be urged along by the Wind and Fire of God's Spirit crossing together with your new bishop the threshold of hope and joy in a new era for this local Church.

(This was Archbishop Brunett's homily on Pentecost Sunday, May 19.)


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