May 28, 2023

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

With joyous hearts, we gather this weekend to celebrate the glorious occasion of Pentecost, marking the arrival of the Holy Spirit upon the united Apostles. In the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke vividly depicts this transformative experience as a powerful wind filling the upper room, accompanied by tongues of fire resting upon each disciple. Moreover, he reveals that as the Apostles fearlessly proclaimed the Good News, people from diverse nations marveled at their ability to understand the message in their own native tongues.

Pentecost, therefore, encompasses not only the outpouring of the Holy Spirit but also the celebration of unity that this divine gift brings. The Spirit unites people from diverse backgrounds, languages, and cultures, connecting them with those who bear witness to the resurrected Christ. Through this unity, we are all able to encounter the boundless power of God, transcending the sorrowful divisions that separate us. The Holy Spirit does not impose rigid conformity that stifles diversity; rather, like a sacred dew, it shines upon the varied plants and flowers of the Garden of Creation, preserving their unique beauty and God-given individuality.

This profound understanding of Pentecost urges and inspires us to collaborate in constructing an inclusive society that cherishes diversity as a splendid gift from the Spirit of the Creator. As members of the Catholic Church, a faith community deeply rooted in tradition yet embracing a multitude of cultures and languages, we possess a golden opportunity to bear witness to love—a universal language understood by all. Unfortunately, in our pluralistic society, we witness the destructive consequences of pride, prejudice, and hatred, leading to exclusion, alienation, and even senseless violence. In the face of these tragedies, the Christian response is love. Love rebuilds the human family, restores the initial unity and peace that God intended us to enjoy, and constructs bridges that enable us to surmount the chasms of racism, xenophobia, and all forms of prejudice and fear.

For the past 182 years, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria has stood as a spiritual haven for countless immigrants, refugees, and foreign families. Together, they have nurtured this faith community, leaving us a treasured Catholic legacy that continues to bless our current generation. Though the journey of worshiping and traversing life’s paths as diverse individuals may present challenges, we are grateful to the Holy Spirit for gracing us with the common language of love, which serves as an enduring emblem of unity within our parish family. Today, it is our sacred mission to bear witness to this precious gift.

“Veni Creator Spiritus!” With fervent prayers, the Church resounds, “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in them the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created, and You shall renew the face of the earth!” Let us pray that our hearts may be set ablaze with an all-embracing love for all, including those among us who speak different tongues.

May the blessings of Pentecost be upon each one of you,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham