It is so sad that many cannot participate in the liturgy today and therefore will not hear today’s wonderful prayers and especially the proper preface:
“It is truly worthy, and just, meet, and salutary always and everywhere to thank You, Lord, Holy Father, Almighty eternal God. For now, we are celebrating the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Who, at the beginning of the history of the Church, revealed to all people the understanding of the Divine mysteries and the word of truth. He gives various blessings to people, but in the diversity of blessed gifts He preserves the unity of Your people united by love”.
It seems that it is impossible to come up with a better definition for Christians: God’s people united by love…
Theologians argue about what point in history can be considered the beginning of the Church. Some say that the Church began on the day of Pentecost when the first apostolic sermon was delivered, and then the first parishioners were baptized. Others believe that on Good Thursday when the Lord established the Eucharist — the main mystery of the Church, the mystery of the continuous God’s presence among humans.
Still, others say that immediately after the resurrection when Jesus breathed on the apostles and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them,” thereby empowering the apostles and their successors to forgive sins.
I do not know what moment in history can be considered the beginning of the Church. Everything in the Gospel is important to us; everything speaks that the Church is necessary for our salvation. But be that as it may, this Church was revealed to the world precisely on the day of Pentecost, when the apostles boldly went out to the square and began to proclaim the Good News. When people heard and understood, and believed in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and were baptized.
And they understood and believed … Isn’t this a miracle? In our world,
• in which many say they don’t want to believe anything and anybody,
• in which most of the people are unhappy and lonely, even though they constantly reside in the crowd of others,
• in our world, in which many simply have nowhere to find understanding and comfort,
• where no one wants to listen to anyone, where everyone is for himself,
the Church appeared.
The Church which is the only place of salvation
• as the home which God gives for the lonely to dwell in,
• as a family, where they will listen to you and help you,
• where they will understand you,
• and they will pray for you,
• and where your sins will be forgiven,
• and where will your way to the Heaven begin.
This is the Church where people are united by God’s love.
By His LOVE — it is by this word that we can describe the attitude of God towards us. God loves us — and therefore He did everything so that we would not perish. He gave His only begotten Son to die for our sins. God loves us — and therefore He built the Church. If we are only a little aware of this love of God, we will understand the meaning of the Church.
• In the Church, God comes to us as close as possible.
• In the Church, God forgives us, so that we learn to forgive others.
In the Church, our fragile and weak human love becomes divine. The Fathers said, “The Body and Blood of Christ are distributed throughout our members; thus we become partakers of the Divine nature,” and thus we also become partakers of the Divine love.
On Pentecost, completely different people gathered in Jerusalem. Absolutely different people gather in the church now. God’s love embraces us, unites us all:
• different people
• of different nationalities;
• of different ages;
• of different professions.
Here is no coercion, no violence. No one here will force you to be the same as the others. Because in the Church there is no other unity than unity in diversity. You know, the ancients said that “God creates different people, but Satan creates the identical ones.” Unlike totalitarian sects and countries, in the Church, we are all different people united by love.
United by love. And therefore the Church is not only a place where we feel good; the Church is also our common responsibility for each other.
Here we are called
• to learn to understand each other;
• to listen to others, not ourselves;
• to think about them, not about ourselves;
• to take care of others, not ourselves.
Pentecost was a day of miracles. Today there is no longer the radiance of fire and “noise like a rushing wind.” The tongues ceased, and the prophecies done away. But miracles did not stop, because the Lord still loves us and continues to gather His people in the Church for the Eucharist — God’s people united by love.
I congratulate you with the festival, my beloved parishioners!