I think it would be safe to say that we can see this feast of Pentecost as a feast of action. It certainly lacks the tranquility of a Christmas Eve. Whatever happened in that locked room could not be put in adequate words. We’re told ‘it was as if’ a violent rocked the room, something like “tongues of fire settled on all present.” Whatever and however happened it was a transforming event in the lives of the men and women who were in that room. The men and women in that room were seized by an unearthly, transforming force that gave them the courage to throw open locked doors and driven by wind and fire the followers of Jesus were set loose on the world to make the bold proclamation “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
We see this feast of Pentecost as the birth of the Church. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would always be with each of us and the whole Church. It was the Holy Spirit who worked the wonders we read about in the Acts of the Apostles, it was the Holy Spirit who gave the early Christians the courage they needed to proclaim their faith in Jesus, even though it meant their death. It was the Holy Spirit who raised up men and women to found religious communities who enriched the life of the Church. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired missionaries to go to the ends of the earth to bring the good news of Jesus Christ. It was the Holy Spirit who raised up people like Catherine of Sienna, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross to rid the church of scandal and bring us back to the way of Christ. It was the Holy Spirit who guided the Church through its different Councils over the centuries and we have to trust that the Holy Spirit is with the Church today as we face the consequences of a lack of leadership and responsibility in dealing with the abuse of innocent children in so many countries.
The important question for each of us on this feast of Pentecost is, ‘how is the Holy Spirit working in my life today?’ We are a long way from violent winds and tongues of fire. I think that in most of our lives the Holy Spirit works by nudging us, a gentle poke to do this or that. It is the Holy Spirit that suggests we make a call or drop a note to someone who is ill or grieving. It is the Holy Spirit that helps us enjoy a beautiful day such as this. It is the Holy Spirit that suggests we take a time out and be still and grateful for the blessings of our lives. It is the Holy Spirit that gives us the courage to say, ’I’m sorry,’ or the willingness to say, ‘I forgive you.’ It is the Holy Spirit who gives the courage, the conviction to stand for life, from womb to tomb. It is the Holy Spirit who blesses us with good memories of those who have died. It is the Holy Spirit who makes us aware of God’s good creation and impact our lifestyles are having on it. It is the Holy Spirit who inspires us to be grateful the many blessings of our lives.
As we continue to celebrate this feast of the dynamic, life-giving Holy Spirit we can pray for ourselves and for each other that we be always open to the gentle nudgings of Spirit as the Spirit helps to life Christ-like lives.