In the Missal we used before this present one there was a prayer we prayed that summed up the meaning this feast of Pentecost. We prayed’ and that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him he sent the Holy Spirit from your Father as his first gift to those who believe, to complete his work on earth and bring us to the fullness of grace.
In the Jewish Scriptures the words wind and fire were often used to indicate that God was present and acting in a particular time and place. In our first reading the time was the Jewish Spring harvest festival of Pentecost and the place was an upper room in a private home, the people involved were the apostles and disciples of Jesus. Something of God happened to those people in that time and place and it is best described by a violent wind and tongues of fire. A graced filled event happened to them giving them the boldness to go out into the streets and proclaim the wonder that the risen Jesus was Lord and Messiah.
In our time the Holy Spirit doesn’t usually work through wind and fire. I like to think that today the Holy Spirit tends to nudge us, push us, and give us an insight as to what to say or do in a particular situation. The Holy Spirit might be working in our lives by a thought that comes into our minds. We may be nudged to just sit still for a moment and thank God for the blessing of our lives. We might see someone in a wheel chair and be moved to thank God for the gift of our own mobility. Seeing a street person might move us to thank God for the blessing of our own lives. The Holy Spirit may come into our lives as a gentle breeze that moves us to pray for sick and lonely people we know. The Holy Spirit might nudge us to phone or visit someone we know to sick or a shut-in.
Not by the swirly wind of that first Pentecost but by a gentle breeze the spirit nudges us, gently pushes us to think of things in a different way, new insights into how we live our lives, how we relate to others and to the earth itself. On the occasion of our recent bundle Sunday to which you responded so generously, the Holy Spirit might have nudged us to be more aware of the men women and children in our own city who are living on the edge of financial survival.
Do we allow the Holy Spirit to give us a voice to interrupt a conversation that is racist or sexist, bigoted or homophobic? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to give us a voice to speak up for the dignity and value of all life?
The Holy Spirit can speak to us in world events we see and hear about every day. Did that tragedy in Bangladesh, where over a thousand people died in that collapsed sweat shop, make us stop and think of the men and women working, slaving in such places as cheap labour to provide us with the clothes we wear? Did it make us consider the injustice of our worldwide economic systems? Did we allow the Spirit to help us examine our own consumer life styles and remember the Lenten theme we used two years ago – that we live simply that others may simply live?
The scientific discoveries of our vast universe are truly a gift of the Holy Spirit reminding us of an ancient psalm “the heavens proclaim the glory of God” and remind us too God first made himself known in creation itself. The scientific knowledge we have about how our unrelenting exploitation of the un-renewable resources the earth and the seas is doing great harm to the life systems of planet earth and endangering the well-being of ourselves and future generations. This scientific knowledge is the Holy Spirit’s call to each of us to live lightly on the earth and reminds us of the truth that the earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth and what we do to the earth we do to ourselves.
On this great feast of Pentecost we pray for ourselves and for each other that we be open to and respond to those nudges and pushes of the Holy Spirit that can come to us in so many different ways every day. In and through that openness we can come to live no longer ourselves but for Christ and for others and complete Christ’s work on earth.