One day, the father was carrying his son around on his shoulders. They met a friend who had seen the little boy just the week before. The friend looked up at the little boy riding on his father’s shoulders and with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, said to him, “my goodness, look at you! At how much you’ve grown since I last saw you.
The little boy replied, Not all of this is me.”
In Acts 2: 1-4, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And 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 of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the spirit enabled them to proclaim.”
Imagine, if we could somehow go into a time machine, go back to the day of Pentecost and experience first-hand that incredible happening and there after approach Simon Peter and say to him, “Wow” what you did today was absolutely amazing! You stood and preached with astonishing courage and conviction. Your sermon was so powerful, so moving that three thousand people came forward to join the church. You were simply marvelous Simon! That was a great sermon you preached!
We know what Simon Peter would say don’t we? Of course we do! He would say, “Not all of this is me. Very little of this is me. It’s the work of God. It was the Holy Spirit that enabled me. I was merely the instrument of God’s Holy Spirit. I was riding on the shoulders of the Holy Spirit!”
Now imagine that we then move forward a few years after Pentecost, and find those early Christians who worked so hard to get the church going. Then we would say to Paul, Peter, James and John, Andrew and Timothy: “Wow! What a great job you’ve done. Against all odds – against dangerous confrontations with the Roman army and threats of persecutions – you have started so many churches in so many places. What an amazing accomplishment! Where did you find the courage and strength to do all that you’ve done?”
Like Simon Peter, they would say, “Not all of this is us! Very little of this is us. It is the work of God; we’re merely the instruments of God’s Holy Spirit. We’ve been riding on the shoulders of God’s Holy Spirit. “
On a faithful day during the late fall of 1992, the first Marriage Encounter was held in New Jersey. Leading the Encounter was a group of 3 immigrant Filipino couples who shared their God given gifts and talents in the service of God, their works contributed to the beginning of BLD Newark. Guided by the same Pentecostal power received by the disciples of Jesus, BLD Newark responded to God’s call to spread the Good news. As we are reflecting on God’s Words now and as we worship every Friday, God’s message of eternal salvation, love and healing power are being proclaimed in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area, in Trenton NJ, Long Island, Rockland, Albany, Washington DC, Charlotte, North Carolina, Allentown Pennsylvania. Hundreds of couples, Solo Parents, Singles, Youths and children are experiencing the rare opportunity of grace and intimacy with Jesus Christ. If you commend the great mission work of this community, we all know what to say don’t we? Of course we do! We would say, “Not all of this is us! Very little of this is us. It’s the work of God. We are merely the instruments of God’s Holy Spirit. We’ve been riding on the shoulders of God’s Holy Spirit.
All of us should be able to relate to this, because the truth is that we are all riding on the shoulders of others. All of us are carried on the shoulders of our families, our friends, our community, and most importantly, our God. Whenever we do something that is good, whenever we express faith, hope and love, whenever we say a kind word or perform a compassionate deed, whenever we humbly ask and forgive others, whenever we exhibit courage, confidence or integrity, whenever we live in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, not all of that is us. Actually very little of that is us. When we stand tall for what is right, when we live out the Christian lifestyle, we are merely instruments of the Holy Spirit.
The scripture Readings for the Feast of Pentecost teach us that the power of the Pentecost is in the hands of those who choose to use and share the gifts for the benefit of others and not for our own selfish gain. They are not individual treasures. They are meant for the common good.
Our Worship Theme declares that, We followers of Christ bear much fruit when we use the gifts of the Holy Spirit on our day to day lives. In the 2nd Reading, St. Paul writes there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same spirit; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the same benefit. They magnify the relationship between recognizing personal gifts as free endowments from God and the responsibility to use them in service to others. Each of us has a basket with some gifts and talents in it that have been given to us that we haven’t earned and that are a piece of God Himself. And each of us is absolutely positively unique. There is another you, never will be, and never was. So our gifts and talents, the blessings we have been given, are in our basket and the Lord constantly saying to you, to me and to everyone, “will you share your gifts and talents with my friends?”
When our lives are mainly about securing our own comfort, wealth, respect, power, esteem, then our lives are ultimately worthless and barren – and we are never satisfied, never secure, never fulfilled and never at peace because we have rejected the Holy Spirit from entering our lives.
The Feast of the Pentecost calls us to act and be strong witnesses to the Word so that others may see, hear and understand. Jesus said in John’s Gospel “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Our calling as a covenant community is to build communities of disciples of Jesus Christ. But we can’t do these things alone. The good news is that we don’t have to do it alone, God is with us. If we are able to build community, it is simply because “not al of this is us. We are carried by the Holy Spirit of God. Only the Holy Spirit can build community. Only the Holy Spirit can empower and sustain our community. The Holy Spirit is our strength, our guide, our inspiration, our comfort, our teacher. It is the Holy Spirit and the sharing our individual spiritual gifts for the common good that holds us up.
Almighty Father, we are overwhelmed by your Glory. Through the Holy Spirit, we pray that you set our hearts ablaze with a desire to live our faith and to share it fully and freely with others. Generous God, our community haw all the gifts it need, and every one of us has a gift. Almighty Father, help us put our gifts at the service of the community and to be receptive of the gifts so that we may all work together with the eagerness and dedication of a disciple. Amen.