Called Forth this Lent


March 23, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
Following the death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus. The disciples were gathered in fear in the Upper Room. When suddenly the Holy Spirit filled the entire house which they were hiding in, animating them and calling them forth to proclaim the Gospel. Pentecost is the third great event that happened in the Upper Room. After being loved and served by Jesus through the washing of the feet, and being nourished through the institution of the Eucharist, the disciples are then filled with the Spirit to go forth and proclaim the love of God to all the nations.

The fullness of the Upper Room is complete with Pentecost, the day when the Spirit of God fills the disciples and they go out to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Each of the three events of the Upper Room are intertwined. Anyone who wants to follow Jesus must first experience His love for them, then they must be strengthened by His love, and finally, when they have received and experienced God’s love, they are then commissioned in the spirit of love to go forth and share what they received from Jesus to the world. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Witnessing to the love of Jesus is such a vital part of our Christian faith. Archbishop Hebda says in his pastoral letter to us, “The Church exists to evangelize, and only 3% of Catholic parishes are intentional about doing so! Many Catholics today are accustomed to ascending to the Upper Room of the parish for the reception of the Sunday Eucharist but very few ascend to that same Upper Room for the reception of the Holy Spirit.” We faithfully receive Jesus and all the love He offers to us through the sacraments, yet we do not ask for the Holy Spirit so that we can witness to the love that we received from Him. What God has joined together in the Upper Room; we have divided.

Our mission as disciples of Jesus is to invite the transformative power of the Holy Spirit into our lives. To unite the love God has for us, with the love that empowers us to go forth. As the disciples were moved from fear and timidity to strength and courage, we ask for the same fire that will help us witness to Christ. We want others to see the good Jesus has done in our life so that they can want it for themselves and join us in living as a follower of Jesus.

The thought of witnessing is something that we are often nervous about. We do not know how to do it, or we do not know what to do. We look at how others are sharing their faith in such wonderful ways that we become self-conscious. However, when the Holy Spirit moves us to witness, He does so by using the abilities that we possess. Some of us have the gift of hospitality. We could simply invite people in and receive them with the love of God. This is a very easy way to be a witness. When people eventually notice your warmth as a host and are curious about it, you can share truthfully that it is the fire of God’s love that moves you to love and serve. St. Paul says, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”

Wherever the Lord may call us in life, our joy is to be loved by Him and to then witness to that love. As we continue with our Synod implementation, we will be living out these three events of the Upper Room. The Washing of Feet, the Institution of the Eucharist, and Pentecost. Our confidence in being loved by God and witnessing to Him will grow as we continue to draw from these events. We are good at receiving the love of God, may we now ask for the grace to live out of that love with confidence and strength of the Holy Spirit. That we may be witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Father Joseph Nguyễn
Parochial Vicar