An artist’s depiction of a scene from the Pentecost. The feast, celebrated June 9 this year, commemorates the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles 50 days after Christ’s resurrection. Pentecost also marks the end of the Easter season. CNS photo/Crosiers

Pentecost makes inspiring call to stewardship

By  FR. YAW ACHEAMPONG
  • June 6, 2019

Do you remember how your parish prepared to celebrate the Easter Vigil? 

Do you remember the rehearsals for those to be baptized, for the liturgical ministers and the decoration of the church? Parishioners offered themselves in many different ways to help our communities celebrate the Easter Vigil to reflect the splendour of the Risen Christ. That generosity is an example of Christian stewardship.

And as we welcomed new members of the Church at the Vigil Mass through Baptism, we joined them in renewing our own baptismal promises — that we are all called to witness to the Risen Christ through our acts of stewardship. 

That stewardship, that call to be missionary disciples, is central to the celebration of Pentecost Sunday (June 9), when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles.

We celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit to each Christian. According to the Holy Father in his 2019 post-synodal apostolic exhortation to young people and to the entire people of God, Christus Vivit (Christ is Alive), the Holy Spirit “draws us ever more deeply into the heart of Christ, so that we can grow in His love, His life and His power” (130).

The readings on Pentecost Sunday remind us of the amazing presence of the Spirit in us when we strive to respond to our call to stewardship. The gift of languages given by the Holy Spirit to the disciples on Pentecost Sunday is an example of the diversity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church. It is our access to the variety of gifts of the Spirit that unites us as the Body of Christ.

Pope Francis, in his 2013 Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel), describes the Church as a “missionary disciple.” The Holy Father calls on parishes “to be nearer to the people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented” (28). 

At last year’s Conference of the International Catholic Stewardship Council held in Nashville, several speakers from dioceses around the world gave inspiring testimonies of the effects of stewardship in their parishes. They testified that when we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, each of us can live the stewardship way of life in our own situations and circumstances. 

On Pentecost Sunday we can use the celebration to reflect on how we use our gifts to help us live as stewards and grow in the love of Christ. How do we allow the Holy Spirit to draw us more deeply into the heart of Jesus? In his book Cornerstones of Faith, Cardinal Thomas Collins describes the concept of deep stewardship as “individual and communal conversion, and calls us to live as disciples of Jesus in a spirit of generosity and total engagement, as we are commissioned to do through our Baptism and Confirmation.” 

In our own parishes, there are many ways of responding to the call to be missionary disciples. You may consider joining one of the various ministries such as becoming an usher or a catechist or you may consider supporting  an outreach program such as Out of the Cold and St. Vincent de Paul Society  

As people reborn in the Spirit, how are we responding to the Spirit of fire within us? How do we keep this fire burning within our hearts? 

Pentecost is the day that we are to open our hearts to be awakened by the fire of the Spirit. The vibrant liturgical colour red for Pentecost reminds us to allow the Spirit to set our hearts on fire so that we may shine brightly as people of light. 

As we are about to enter into a new liturgical season of Ordinary Time, our continuing response to the call of stewardship is an expression of our gratitude to God for His many gifts. 

Bringing the love of Christ to others by our gifts of time, talent and treasure is the foundation of our deep stewardship. And so today as Christians, joy is our mission and love is the message. 

(Fr. Acheampong is pastor at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Toronto.)

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