Sunday Reflection - Pentecost (Year C)

Sunday Reflection - Pentecost (Year C)

Posted: Sat, 04 Jun 2022 11:05

Sunday Reflection - Pentecost (Year C)

One of the amazing POSITIVE effects of being in lockdown due to Covid-19 was the sense of UNITY that it engendered. As a global family we are, literally, all in this together We have seen the very best of humanity in the most appalling of situations, as they continue to care on the frontline. We see the generosity of so many people as they offer the gift of compassion. In the pain and misery of the appalling conflict in Ukraine, we have also witnessed so much good and care. There is far more good in our world than evil.

In Luke's account of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-12), we hear that it seemed that the whole world had descended on Jerusalem for the feast. Those of us who have visited any major pilgrimage site know that we are united by the sense of the pilgrimage experience, even though we might not be able to speak to each other—we share at a much deeper level and can have so much fun. In that same reading, Luke says that all who gathered in one room heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven; he goes on to say that something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire. Luke is trying his best to describe the how the Spirit came into the lives of those first followers of Christ. It is often said that the Spirit is the forgotten member of the Trinity; however, we see the effects and the strength of the Paraclete. The disciples can experience, without seeing, that the Holy Spirit is real in their lives. Many things in our universe are real, even though invisible to the naked eye—we trust that they are there. What we see with our eyes is only a fraction of our physical world. The Holy Spirit belongs to the spiritual world, and we naturally cannot see the Spirit with our eyes. St Paul uses an image drawn nature when he says that the Spirit bears fruit (Gal 5:22-26), but we can see the effect of the Spirit in our life. Just as we cannot see the wind but can observe the effect of the wind on people and objects of various kinds, so the Spirit can influence the community for good. Paul is saying that wherever we find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control, the Spirit is there at work. The Spirit becomes visible in and through these qualities and virtues. The person who most of all had those qualities was Jesus because he was full of the Holy Spirit, full of the life of God.

Even after the glory of Resurrection, the disciples are seen in the Acts of the Apostles as gathered "in continuous prayer", together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus" (Acts 1: 11). This picture of the early Jerusalem community shows a Church in isolation. As we see at the end of the gospels, the apostles are presented as frightened and scared. They are in need of support and help, and Mary fits the bill perfectly. The founder of our Salesian family, Don Bosco saw the need for his educators to be involved in their lives of their students through a kindly presence. This is exactly what Mary was to the disciples in their grief and loss. She, who has lost her beloved son, is the one who offers that unconditional presence and cares for them. In this room of Eucharist, she lives that life for them as she invites them to remember.

Pentecost is a challenge to see the basic good in the world and the goodness of others, even as bad things happen. We need to see all the good that is out there. In the popular West-End and Broadway musical, 'Wicked', the two friends at the centre of the story have to separate at the end of the story, but they recognise the goodness that true friendship can bring:

So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend

In the pilgrimage of life, friends will come and go; true friends will always make an impact and help write the story of our lives. True friends are that handprint on the heart that will remain forever—even if there is pandemic, physical distancing, war, or breakdown. Perhaps today we need to look for forgiveness for those silly, and not so silly, things that lead to the breakdown of friendship. We can now share the love that Jesus has for his friend Peter, who let him down big time! Today perhaps is that needed call to seek forgiveness for all that has alienated you from your friends

I ask forgiveness
For the things I've done, you blame me for
But then I guess
We know there's blame to share

With the gift of the Holy Spirit, the disciples, including Mary and the apostles can now move out of their lockdown ennobled by the Spirit. At last, they can bring the compassionate Gospel message to the world; they are fearless and want to share their life of God. Like them, we pray for that time when we can fully re-connect as a living, loving and dynamic Church community. However, even we now have to listen to the scientific experts and still use our pain and isolation as a symbol of our deep love for each other. We are saving lives in our own special way

Breathe in me O Holy Spirit
that my thoughts may all be holy;
Act in me O Holy Spirit
that my works, too, may be holy;
Draw my heart O Holy Spirit
that I love but what is holy;
Strengthen me O Holy Spirit
to defend that is holy;
Guard me then O Holy Spirit
that I always may be holy.
(St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430)

Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB

Image: Photo by Wylly Suhendra on Unsplash

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