Sunday Sermon for May 23, 2021, Pentecost Sunday, Year B

Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Gal 5:16-25; Jn 15:26-27, 16:12-15

In the second reading today, St. Paul tells us the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other.  While this has always been true, it has probably never been more important than it is in our day.  A brief overview of art over the centuries shows a fascination with the human body, but our generation has taken this to a level earlier generations would not have thought possible.  To be honest, they would have been scandalized if they were shown a glimpse into the future to see what has happened in our times.

We have made the body something of a little god, on one hand, and turned it into an object of the most vile and selfish lust on the other.  The making of the body into something of a god tends to be directed toward one’s own body while making it an object is more often focused on the bodies of other people.  Either way, we have lost the reverence for the dignity of the person by abstracting the body or body parts from the whole person.

Since we also live in a world that has divorced itself from its Creator, there is a rejection of our dignity as being made in the image and likeness of God.  After all, if God does not exist or if we were not made by God, there can be no reference to God in our being.  It makes sense that we would act like that from which we came, so if we came merely from the animals, then we can justify why acting like animals is good and acceptable.

However, today we are witnessing two destructive and anti-human movements on both ends of the spectrum.  As we just mentioned, there are those who are becoming more animalistic on one end.  On the other end are those who claim we are about to evolve into the next phase of our humanness.  This is called transhumanism.  This entails the use of existing or future technologies to enhance or replace our human abilities, in essence, connecting us directly to the “web.”

Obviously, even if there was such a thing as evolution, this would not qualify for the next stage of progression because it is purely unnatural; it is being artificially caused by people with a twisted sense of propriety.  Claiming that most people are already connected to a computer, meaning their “smart” phone, this would just remove the need for an external device and connect directly so one has immediate access to a wide array of information and technological applications.

When we couple these kinds of tragedies with the horrors of those who are using plastic surgery to change themselves into something they are not, whether that be a person of the opposite sex, an animal, or something of their imagination, we see that the focus on the flesh is leading in a very diabolical direction. The unholy spirit is unleashing his entire sick agenda and his hatred for humanity on a willing and gullible populace.

We need an outpouring of the Holy Spirit!  In the Gospel reading Jesus tells us the Spirit will lead us into all truth.  In a society of lies, we are not fulfilled because we are made for truth; we will be set free only by the truth.  But the truth is deeper and affects us spiritually.  The devil wants us to stay on the surface and focus on the flesh with its senses and its desires.  God wants us to delve deeply into our own soul and find Him dwelling there.  There we will learn the truth of our own dignity, the dignity of the human body and the dignity of the human soul.  Together, they make an integral whole and express the full dignity of the human person.

When the people of Jerusalem heard the Apostles, they were amazed that each person heard about the mighty acts of God in his own native language.  While we may not hear the sound or see the tongues of flame, we need to see the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, leading us to accept and to speak the truth. 

St. Paul tells us we are to live by the Spirit, but this requires crucifying our flesh with its passions and desires.  This is the only way we can follow where the Spirit will lead us.  It may be uncomfortable for us to allow the Spirit to lead because we like to be in control.  Look at what happened on Pentecost; the Apostles had to let go of any and all control.  The Holy Spirit led them in a way that brought many to believe.  Perhaps because the problems of today are different, the way the Spirit leads will be different.  Let go, trust the Lord, and let the Spirit lead!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit