Saturday, June 4, 2022

HOMILY – Pentecost – Following the Holy Spirit


          I remember my first Dale Carnegie class as a young manager. The first lesson was: “Act enthusiastic and you’ll be enthusiastic.”

In other words, “Fake it ‘til you make it.”

           I was 29 at the time, had just moved with my pregnant wife from Seattle to Little Rock, Arkansas, to manage a newsradio station there, and didn’t have a clue as to how to lead people.

           The station owner was a former Navy Admiral. He knew how to lead people. He was the one to suggest I take a Dale Carnegie course to smooth out my many rough edges. 

           The word enthusiasm comes from a two Greek words: en and theos. These two words put together mean “God within”.

           In the ancient Greek world, enthusiasm was seen as “an arbitrary invasion of God into the psyche that filled the person with an indomitable energy.”

Or put another way, a person filled with “divine inspiration.”

           From a Christian faith perspective, enthusiasm means a person filled with the Spirit of God, filled with the Holy Spirit.

           For Christians, enthusiasm is more than just being energetic. Enthusiasm means being courageous, motivated, and committed.

           When we think of the Christian expression of enthusiasm, we can easily think of the Apostles whose lives we’ve been hearing about these past fifty days in our first reading each week from Acts of the Apostles.

How else would the Apostles have accomplished all they did without having “God within”?

As former Seattle Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg wrote in his book, Come Follow Me, “The gift of the Holy Spirit transformed their fear into faith. It motivated them from being self-preserving to becoming other-serving, and it changed the mission of the Church from merely a human organization into a holy endeavor.”

The power of the Holy Spirit transforms of lives and communities.

          We, too, experience the power of the Holy Spirit with our homeless street medicine nonprofit in Everett called MercyWatch.

Founded in the summer of 2016, this all-volunteer team serves on the margins of society by providing outreach, medical assistance, and serving as advocates to those experiencing homelessness.

          When I shared with the archbishop my plan to retire as pastoral leader of Christ Our Hope and St. Patrick, I knew God wanted me to spend more time with MercyWatch. But I didn’t know why.

A few weeks after notifying the archbishop I got my first answer. My second answer came just this past Friday.

          Days after I got this letter from Archbishop confirming my decision to step down here, we received our first good news.

The Archbishop wrote, “Dennis, I am pleased to hear that you are re-engaging with MercyWatch and believe this sort of ministry exemplifies the ‘Samaritan Church’ to which Pope Francis is calling us… I fully support your discernment (and your decision to retire).”

          Just a week after receiving this letter from the Archbishop, MercyWatch found out it was eligible for a portion of 35 million dollars of new state funding for the uninsured and underinsured.

MercyWatch has over a thousand clients and serves as one of the largest free clinics in the state of Washington. MercyWatch is the only nonprofit doing street medicine in Western Washington.

On Monday, we will find out how much we will be awarded.

          No matter the amount, it will be a blessing for our unhoused clients in Snohomish County and beyond. This funding will allow us to better serve their needs.

In addition, this past Friday MercyWatch was asked to help run a five-day a week day shelter for those experiencing homelessness in Everett. City and County funding will flow into that project to better serve our community.

          What a pair of Holy Spirit moments for our team! What a pair of Holy Spirit moments to add consolation to a decision to leave this beautiful community. God has big plans for our team.

MercyWatch enthusiastically serves the unhoused. Our team is courageous in its encounters with this volatile and vulnerable community.

MercyWatch doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses and outreach workers and others are motivated and committed because we have “God within” our mission.

This is where I will be spending my fulltime attention once I leave here at the end of the month.

          I ask for your prayers for our endeavors.

In Assisi, every year on the Feast of Pentecost, St. Francis would gather his many followers and pray to the Holy Spirit to guide them in their endeavors.

“The Holy Spirit is able to transform fear into courageous faith, anxious concern into peace, alienation into reconciliation, and disciples into missionaries.”

As we gather here today, let us pray for Sacred Encounters, St. Vincent de Paul, MercyWatch, Operation Nightwatch, Union Gospel Mission, Mary’s Place, and all the many ministries serving the “least of these” in our world; that the Holy Spirit will enrich their endeavors.

          May we missionaries move forward with enthusiasm, “God within,” and may our efforts be powerful work done through the power of the Holy Spirit.

And to that we say, Amen.