Fifty days have now passed since we began the celebration of the Easter season. Today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, this time of celebration draws to a close. For the past six weeks, the scriptures have invited us to reflect on the experience that the disciples encountered in the days following Jesus' resurrection and while they waited for the gift of the Spirit, even though they really didn't understand what this new gift would look like. When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place
(Acts 2:1), just as they had done on many other occasions. Human beings are creatures of habit, but God had something new in mind for them, and the same can be said for us.
Without any warning, suddenly ... there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind ... Divided tongues
... something like fire ... appeared among them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages
(Acts 2:2-4). Something unexpected, something new, something wonderful was taking place. At first, the disciples did not understand what was unfolding, but they recognized the fact that whatever this was, it was a gift, the gift that had been promised.
Today, we have gathered in this place to begin a new chapter in the history of the Catholic faithful in the city of Elliot Lake. As it was in the time of the disciples, we too have been waiting for this day, not understanding fully how it would all come to pass, but trusting that it would indeed happen. We have come a long way in a relatively short period of time. Two years ago, when I first arrived, people told me that there were great needs among the people of this city. People told me that there were increasing struggles to find enough people to fill all the roles that are necessary for the healthy functioning of a parish. We have known for quite some time that something needed to be done. The process that has led to this day has not always been easy, but it has been necessary. Today, we can begin to look forward to a brighter tomorrow.
Saint Paul reminds us that there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit
(1 Cor 12:4). We give thanks to God for all the gifts that have been so freely and generously shared at various points along the road that has led us to this moment, and together, we ask the Lord to journey with us on the path that lies ahead. For just as the body is one and has many members ... so it is with Christ
(1 Cor 12:12). We all come to this place, at this moment in time, bringing with us our own histories, our own experiences, our own gifts - and all of us have gifts to share, and no gift is insignificant in the eyes of our God.
When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room, he gave them a gift. He said to each one of them: Peace be with you,
but that peace was not meant for them to keep for themselves. In the same breath, he told them: As the Father has sent me, so I send you
(Jn 20:21). Here, in this church, Jesus offers a gift to the new parish community of Saint Bernadette. He says to each one of us: Peace be with you.
Our world is very much in need of the gift of peace, and it is up to us to go out from this place and to share the gift of God's peace with those we meet. Together, let us ask the Lord to look lovingly upon us, to breathe the breath of his spirit upon us and to fill us with new life so that we can go out to the places where he sends us, to be his witnesses of joy, compassion and love in the world.