Alumnus Gives Homily at Mass of the Holy Spirit

Adam Rosinski, S.J. ’07 was the homilist at this year's Mass of the Holy Spirit on Sept. 5, 2019. Read his homily here.
Alumnus Gives Homily at Mass of the Holy Spirit

Adam Rosinski, S.J. ’07 was the homilist at this year's Mass of the Holy Spirit on Sept. 5, 2019. Read his homily here.


Lk 4:16-21

So...why the Holy Spirit? At the start of each academic year, why is it the Holy Spirit we call on? Why don’t we celebrate, say, the Mass of St. Ignatius or of Mary or of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

We invoke the Holy Spirit today because, as Jesus reminds us in the gospel, the Spirit is the Great Anointer. Jesus tells the people in his hometown: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me. At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit, and today, at the start of this new academic year, we ask for that same powerful anointing.

The act of anointing with precious oil is a tradition rich and ancient in the Church, going all the way back to the Old Testament. We continue the practice today at various moments of life, most notably at baptism, when every Christian is anointed with holy oil, the sign of our union with Christ.

Very recently, I received another anointing, at my priestly ordination. I’ve been a Jesuit for 10 years, but I was ordained a priest just 3 months ago, which means I’m still very much in my rookie season.

Part of the rite of ordination calls for the bishop to anoint the hands of the new priest. The bishop who ordained me was Cardinal Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark. When it came time for the anointing, I knelt down before him, and he poured sacred Chrism all over my hands...and he really poured it on thick! As the oil dripped through my fingers, he rubbed it into my hands and reminded me that, as a priest, I am to conform my life to that of Jesus Christ, “whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit…”

Today, we call on the Holy Spirit, the Great Anointer, to do the same to us: to anoint our hands, our heads, and our hearts with his precious oil and fill us with his gifts, some of which St. Paul mentioned in the second reading: the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, of faith and healing, of discernment and prophecy.

We do this because it is the purpose of the Jesuit, Catholic education that is ours here at Scranton. This place exists not simply for education itself, nor solely for retreats, or service projects, or Lady Royals basketball. At their core, Jesuit education and the University of Scranton exist to help people encounter and be anointed by the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Jesus, alive and working in our world.

Thinking back on my own Scranton days, I can testify that the Holy Spirit—and his gifts—are already present in this holy place. I received wisdom and knowledge from so many professors and mentors. I experienced the profound joy of loving friendships, which grew from spending hundreds of hours sitting and talking and laughing together out front of Gunster, the old student center. I discovered the value of prayer and quiet in time spent at Madonna and on retreat at Chapman Lake, and I grew a deep hunger for God’s peace and justice by accepting the challenge to take part in service and immersion opportunities. Long before anyone poured oil on my hands, I was anointed by this same Holy Spirit right here on this campus.

As members of this Scranton community, you—all of you—are called to be anointed, to stretch out your hands and feel the Spirit’s rich and sweet oil drip through your fingers, so that the Spirit might fill you, too, with its gifts. Let yourself be anointed today and throughout this year, whether in the classroom, around a table at DeNaples, on the dock at Chapman Lake, or screaming from the bleachers next door in the Long Center.

But, here’s the catch, because, let’s face it, there’s always a catch: We cannot keep our anointing for ourselves. It will be easy to take the blessings of this year and hold onto them for ourselves alone, but we dare not. We dare not store up the Spirit’s rich and precious oil in mason jars and line them up on our windowsills like so many empty wine and beer bottles. No, the Spirit anoints us so that we, in turn, might go out and anoint the world, so that Jesus’ words might become our own:

The Spirit of Lord is upon me, because he has anointed proclaim glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, recovery of sight to the blind; to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

But this is not always easy, is it?

In preparing this homily, I sent a message blast to a bunch of my closest Scranton friends, and I asked them for some suggestions of what I should say.

Almost immediately, people started firing back with lots of wonderful and ridiculous memories...and we relived some of the glory days.

But one consistent theme was this: My friends told me to challenge all of you to go out of your comfort zone this year. And so I say to you: try new things; introduce yourself to random people on campus; sign up for classes, and clubs, and retreats and service trips that intimidate you and make you a little uncomfortable. For there, as my friends noted, as you turn out from yourselves and toward these new and unknown places, the Great Spirit of God waits, ready to stretch and grow you in ways you can’t begin to imagine right now.

To live and study at a Jesuit school, at this Jesuit school, comes with the great responsibility to turn from ourselves, to leave our comfort zones and go out into the world. We must go to the same people to whom Jesus went: the poor, the captive, and the oppressed; to those who do not know love, who have lost hope; to the broken and the sinful. We must share our anointing with that they, too, might feel the Spirit’s precious oil drip through their fingers.

Sisters and brothers, I don’t need to tell you that our world is in great need of this holy anointing. Our world needs you to take what you receive here at Scranton and go out and anoint lavishly.

So, let us invoke the Great Spirit of God today. May we all know the precious anointing of the Holy Spirit throughout this academic year. May we allow ourselves to be filled with his many gifts and carry them out into the world. Let us be anointed today, so that we might turn and anoint the whole world, and then through us, God might renew the face of the earth.

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