Recently I presided at a wedding of a young couple in Waterford. It was a joyous occasion. Prior to the wedding I was on standby because there was uncertainty about whether or not the grandmother of the groom would be able to attend the wedding. If the 102-year-old grandmother (yes, you read that right) could not attend the wedding, Plan B was that, with the couple, I would go to visit her in the nursing home in Dublin and there would be a small blessing for the couple with the grandmother present. After that the groom and I would leave the room, and the bride would take out her phone and show photos of the wedding dress. This was a simple way of making sure that the grandmother was part of the wedding celebration. As it happened, the grandmother was well enough to attend the wedding so the trip to the nursing home was not needed.
In our Gospel today we see another image of people gathering. We see people coming together in fear and distress. Outside the doors was the real and terrifying reality of arrest, persecution, torture and death. United in a shared grief in a locked room, something remarkable happens. The Risen Lord appears in their midst. It was not that they opened the door for Him. Rather it was that the locked door could not keep Him out! The threats had not lessened outside the room; rather, hope had blossomed in the room to such an extent that fear was driven away.
I realise now that waiting for that phone call to go to a nursing home is an excellent preparation for Pentecost. The grandmother’s presence brought great joy to us all at the wedding. In a similar way the Holy Spirit brings joy to all peoples dwelling on this our beautiful planet. I associate the Feast of Pentecost with a quotation from the Indian writer, Arundhati Roy: Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.
That image comes back to me time and time again. The image of a new world being born is a great consolation.
Pentecost reminds us to be open to the Spirit working in our world, our Church, our congregation. Pentecost teaches us to trust that we are being led by the Spirit to explore new and creative ways of following Christ.