Pentecost and the Fruits of the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church of Washington
Pope Francis says in his recent apostolic exhortation that “holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 15). Today, filled with and strengthened by the presence of the Holy Spirit as at the first Pentecost, we can see this local Church – clergy, religious and laity, institutional ministries, lay organizations and individuals in their daily lives all combined as one diverse body – producing a fruitful harvest as we boldly go out to manifest the kingdom of God in our world.
Every day, people’s lives are touched in ways big and small by the Catholic presence in this archdiocese, in the District of Columbia and the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George’s, Calvert, Charles and Saint Mary’s. The children who are the future are formed to be good citizens, patients receive life-saving treatment, families are strengthened, seniors are cared for, disadvantaged men and women are fed and provided a place to sleep, people in distress are given respite and hope, and others find the meaning in life they have been searching for – all due to a response to the Gospel call to love our neighbors.
Good neighbors can be proof as well that in time of division, social harmony and unity are possible. The over 650,000 men, women and children who make up this archdiocesan family are a living affirmation of the name “Catholic,” which is from the Greek meaning “universal.” We come from every social background, occupation and a multiplicity of cultural heritages and language groups, with members in urban areas and rural tracing their ancestry back to Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, Oceania and to the indigenous peoples of North America too.
The vast breadth and depth of the Catholic family signify also the extent of our involvement with all our neighbors, calling them sisters and brothers in one human family. Taught by Jesus Christ to love our neighbor as ourselves and to celebrate the inherent dignity of every human person as made in the image of God, we aspire to a culture of inclusion and caring for one another.
Serving everyone regardless of religion, race, gender, sexuality, ethnic background or social condition, our many Catholic Charities, healthcare and social service agencies work for the poor, the marginalized and the suffering. Furthermore, with two thousand years of experience in dealing with the human condition, the Catholic community has long been a voice of conscience in working for a better world of goodness, caring, hope, solidarity, justice and authentic human development.
This Pentecost, let us ask again that the Holy Spirit fill us so that, enkindled by the fire of his love, we can be a light to those who struggle in darkness and help renew the face of the earth. Come, Holy Spirit, come!