Bishop Jugis: 'The work of the Holy Spirit keeps expanding'
GASTONIA — Pentecost brought about "an explosion of grace" from the Holy Spirit that continues in the Church today, Bishop Peter J. Jugis preached May 27 on the feast that marks the birth of the Church.
The feast of Pentecost celebrates the occasion when the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and Mary following Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven. Instead of remaining in hiding in fear, locked inside a little house in Jerusalem, the Apostles received the grace and strength to be able to go out to all the nations and preach the Gospel. Pentecost marks the birthday of the Church, whose mission continues to be to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to people everywhere. Read Pope Benedict XVI's Pentecost Sunday message.
Pictured: Bishop Peter J. Jugis celebrated Mass at St. Michael Church in Gastonia on the feast of Pentecost, May 27. (SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Herald)
The "driving wind" of the Holy Spirit cut through the locked doors of that little house in Jerusalem, Bishop Jugis said, giving birth to the Church with Mary as its Mother.
The nucleus of the Church, once contained entirely in that house, soon spread forth through the power of the Holy Spirit – from St. Peter and the other Apostles baptizing 3,000 people on that first day down through the centuries, to people in every country across the globe.
"The work of the Holy Spirit keeps expanding from that very first place where the Church was completely contained, within the house there in Jerusalem," he said. "You might say, because of the Holy Spirit, there has been an explosion of grace ¬– throughout the entire world and across all of the centuries, as that grace of the Holy Spirit has kept growing, and increasing, and multiplying."
The work of the Holy Spirit is seen in this expanding grace, made evident in thousands of parishes throughout the world and in the numerous religious orders that have been formed through the ages to serve the people of the Church.
This "river of grace" flows from Jesus, and is seen today in the clergy of the Church. Priests are instruments of grace, Bishop Jugis noted, and in their priestly ministry they extend the grace of the Holy Spirit through the sacraments into people's lives.
'The Holy Spirit turns us away from our selfishness and frees us to be self-giving and in service to others," he said of the priesthood. "The Holy Spirit makes Jesus' self-giving love come alive in us."
An example of that self-giving priest is Father Roger K. Arnsparger, pastor of St. Michael Church in Gastonia and diocesan vicar of education, who celebrated his 35th anniversary of ordination this month. Bishop Jugis commended Father Arnsparger for his selfless service, particularly in leading the Diocese of Charlotte Eucharistic Congress since its start in 2004.
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer, and Patricia Guilfoyle, editor
Watch video from Bishop Peter Jugis Homily below.