The Gift of the World
Today, the Church celebrates Pentecost Sunday, a very special day for Christians. We honour this day with great solemnity and festivity. Unfortunately, for two years in a row, we could not properly celebrate this wonderful feast. A year ago, nobody could have imagined what we would experience daily due to Covid-19. This unexpected pandemic has thrown us into an unwelcome ‘new normal’, drastically re-shaping our ordinary lives. For those struggling at society’s margins, its impacts are devastating. As the darkness has gradually engulfed lives, it has become more evident that life has changed into something far different from the normal we remember.
The biblical witnesses show us that the most robust hope emerges out of times of traumatic suffering. The Acts of the Apostles and John’s Gospel today is a good example of a biblical witness when the Spirit came amidst painful reality. The story of Pentecost in both readings pictures the Spirit animating the disciples who have been “cocooning” behind closed doors in the Upper Room, empowering them not only to talk in a variety of languages, but also to continue the vocation of Jesus in increasingly wider fields of ministry. Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me so I send you. (Jn 20:21).
Just as Jesus’ words “Peace be with you” must have given the disciples much comfort and solace that eventful day in the Upper Room, these are words that have comforted us during these days of trial and uncertainty. Fear is all-perversive in our world and in our lives. Despite this, the Day of Pentecost calls us to imagine what accepting this outpouring of the Holy Spirit might look like in our lives today. If we allow ourselves to imagine something new, something fresh, something holy, then anything is possible.
How then can we best serve as Christ’s disciples, witnesses to the Gospel message when a new outflow of heavenly fire will give us the courage, language and power that we need to make our society and the world in which we live what our faith and love envision?
In answer to this question, we are called to be peacemakers, to aid in conflict-resolution between people and groups that harbour resentments and ill-will towards one another in our polarized society. We are called to fight against injustice and oppression, to act to bring positive change to systems that are discriminatory and which prevent people from being all that they can be in life. We are called to love and forgive others, working in ways that raise each other up and bring about the joy that is inherent in our salvation.
This is a tall order and our calling on Pentecost Day!
Thank God for the gift of the Spirit.