I had intended to share some thoughts for Pentecost a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to write a reflection for the triumphant feast that ends the Church’s celebration of Easter as the Apostles are given the Holy Spirit and charged to go out to the world to make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19). Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, the day that marks the Apostles’ emergence from the upper room, no longer fearful of what awaits outside, but on fire with the Spirit, ready, willing, and able to spread the message of the Gospel.
I’m late because I’ve had a hard time finding my fire. In fact, each week that passes in these strange days of Covid restrictions, worry, and uncertainty, even with the slow re-opening of things, I get less and less inspired and motivated. Nothing is as it should be, as I want it to be, and it’s really getting to me. Add to that the tragic and disturbing death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, riots, pain, and shame that our nation is facing and my fire has just about been put out.
If you have been feeling some of that same despair in your heart and in your faith (because I know that it can be so hard to find God in these days and in these times, in our past and in our present), I invite you to consider the example of those first Apostles, of the early church. They were living in fear, locked in the upper room (John 21: 19). It wasn’t until Jesus appeared to them after his death and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit that they were willing to leave that locked room and go out to spread the Good News.
So how appropriate that the day after the Church’s celebration of Pentecost, many of our churches began reopening for Mass. And how appropriate that, in the days leading up to Pentecost, our country’s need for God’s Word and hope and love was being made loud and clear.
Because we, the faithful, have been armed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. We have been reminded that God is with us always in the Spirit. And we are called to use the Spirit that is in us to spread the love of God through the love of our neighbor. We will do that as we cautiously start venturing back out into the world, gaining strength in the Mass and (finally!) reception of the Eucharist for those of us who are able and willing. We will do that as we go out into the world, virtually or in-person, to share the message of God’s love, mercy, and compassion for all those created in His image and likeness (which means, of course, ALL people of every race and nation, gender and faith). Empowered with the fire of the Holy Spirit, we will do that as we help those who need us, as we forgive those who fail us and seek forgiveness when we fail others, as we pray for those who are hurting and despairing and seeking God, as we work to be the people of love that God has called us to be.
The message of the Gospel, the message of God’s love for us and within us, is needed more than ever to help comfort and heal and guide us in these uncertain, turbulent, and troublesome days. As baptized believers, we are all called to share that message. God sent us his Holy Spirit to help us do that. I encourage you to dig deep to find the fire that rests within, the fire that God sent to those first Apostles that he promised to us, too. And when you find it, gather your courage as the Apostles did and go out to all the world and show God’s love in your words and in your deeds. This is how you proclaim to the world that Jesus is Lord. Thanks be to God!
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 will renew the face of the earth.
by the light of the Holy Spirit
you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit
help us to relish what is right
and always rejoice in your consolation.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.