BOTW - Pentecost
May 31, 2020
Today is Pentecost, and we celebrate the incredible gift of the Holy Spirit – as well as the gifts the Holy Spirit brings to us. Pentecost is the highest peak of the Paschal mystery, a celebration of the fulfillment of the Paschal mystery. This day we celebrate the ferocious and gentle Holy Spirit who moves, guides, and directs our lives to accomplish things we never thought possible.
The contradiction of the cross is epitomized in the first few lines of our Gospel today.
In the midst of fear, Jesus brings to the Apostles what all of us need…”Peace be with you.” Jesus then showed them his hands and His side, His wounds. What a strange way to reinforce His expression of peace for them, through the wounds He sustained in the midst of being beaten, and whipped, spit upon, and nailed to a cross. Yes, again, the contradiction – it was the suffering Jesus sustained that most wonderfully shows His love for us. Do you see the incredible contradiction?
The disciples then celebrate this Emmanuel, this Jesus who is “God with us”. There, in the midst of their fear they can celebrate the presence of Emmanuel, and in the midst of this fear, Jesus does not allow them to stay in the fear. Rather, Jesus instructs them that He is sending them in the same way that the Father sent Jesus – to bring all people to the truth of relationship with God.
As Jesus sends them, He gives them what they need to accomplish His mission, the Holy Spirit and through the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins. That is exactly what the disciples needed to move forward without fear; this lack of fear is how the disciples not only accept the “Peace” Jesus offered them but also how they will live “Peace”.
On this day we celebrate the Holy Trinity being fully revealed to us. The Holy Spirit is the love between the Father and the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is sent forth to us from the Father and the Son, The Holy Spirit is shared with us in abundance, coming to us in ways greater than we can fully understand in each moment but also in a way that allows us to carry forth the mission of Christ.
We see that experience in our first reading from Acts. The Holy Spirit comes to the disciples as a powerful wind and fire – tongues of fire that do not destroy but rather gently rest on the disciples; again, the contradiction brings magnificence. The disciples did not understand fully what was happening but they did understand what they could do by accepting the gifts the Holy Spirit.
On this day we celebrate God as love, a love shown to us by the forgiveness of our sins as Jesus brings peace and reconciliation by means of the Holy Spirit. Read again the last line from today’s Gospel – the Holy Spirit is bound to the Church, and in that is the means by which our sins can be forgiven. Now circle back to the words of Jesus “Peace be with you”. The forgiveness of our sins is integral to living a life of peace, a life where fear is not bred. Saint Augustine called peace 'the tranquillity of order', meaning order in my relationships with God, with other people and within myself.
So it is through the bond between the Holy Spirit and the Church where we can most clearly achieve the peace that Jesus desires for us (“whose sins you forgive are forgiven…”)…the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we achieve that peace, we begin to understand how to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
Theme in Our Life
How do we keep Pentecost in our lives? Well, it is very clear that we need to start with forgiveness. Sin does plenty of rotten things to ourselves and to others; it gets us closed inside walls that keep others out of our lives but it also keeps the Holy Spirit from acting in our lives. The Holy Spirit is necessary for us to be in a true relationship with Jesus, and it is ONLY through a genuine relationship with Jesus that we will know the truth. What does thrive inside those walls? Fear.
Fear not only thrives but it grows, latching onto every aspect of our lives, whether we realize or intend it, or not. Sin gives permission for fear to reign present in our lives. A life of fear breads destructive decisions and takes us down a path that Jesus does not want for us. Consider today: What fear do you have in your life? I venture to say we all have one fear or another, what is yours?
When fear comes into your life, have you ever wanted an experience like the disciples had in that room? An experience that looks at whatever situation is before you and without fully understanding everything, you move forward? You can. You can by allowing the Holy Spirit to direct your life, and that means we must constantly develop our relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Fostering a relationship with the Holy Spirit requires we engage the Holy Spirit in prayer and conversation, and then we break down the walls that keep the Holy Spirit from us by getting to Reconciliation. I was chatting with a wonderful Priest in Chicago a couple of months ago. He describes sin as spitting in the face of God. We want God to do us favors but then we spit in His face and think it should be ok.
Now, there are some people who live a life of fear because of circumstances in their lives that can not be overcome easily. Circumstances that require prayer and through that prayer, the intervention of someone else who the Holy Spirit can use to boldly or gently help remove the fear. As Paul writes, we are one body. A bad foot can cause the body to limp and evolve into bad hips. We are community.
Then what happens? The we get incredibly excited to live the life that Paul describes for us in our second reading today! We see more clearly the tremendous stuff God wants us to do with our talents. How great is that? I get to do what God wants me to do, and He promises to be there with me so I will never be afraid doing it, and that brings peace, and that brings joy, and that brings happiness! Great stuff!
Preparing for Sunday
To Prepare for this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word, consider the following:
What is on your heart or mind that is keeping the walls up around you?
What do you need to do to get rid of your fears? Do you need help from someone else to do it?
What is it that you really want out of your life? What do you really want to do? Have you asked the Holy Spirit for guidance?