Each year we celebrate PENTECOST 50 days after Easter. We recall the descent of the Holy Spirit upon frightened disciples and empowered them to go into the world as witnesses of Jesus.
Pentecost is often considered the “birthday” of the Church — the time when a movement became an organized effort to spread a new way of living, a new way of being.
Many preachers will recall the past and call for a new Pentecost. Most, if not all, communities will sing and pray for “coming of the Holy Spirit” — a call for the Spirit to come and “renew the face of the earth.”
And while most churches will be beautifully adorned with red decor and gorgeous floral displays, prayer will call forth the Spirit, and preachers will recall the events surrounding the first Pentecost, I doubt that everyone REALLY WANTS A NEW PENTECOST. Too many people are quite content with the present and there are those who want to turn the clock back and return the past when “everything” was calm and moral living was the standard of life.
The Spirit came as a mighty wind [force] and the Spirit appeared as if tongues of fire. The Spirit rattled the walls and shook the comfortable. The apostles were sent OUT FROM WHERE THEY WERE TO THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE EARTH.
The Spirit changed thousands of years of history. The Spirit really made things new and sent the apostles off on an uncharted course.
So, let’s look at what “happened” on Pentecost [Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11]:
1. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. A strong driving wind in the house had to stir things up. It had to get everyone’s attention, and like the sound of a tornado, struck fear in the hearts of many.
The unexpected election of a Cardinal from Argentina came quietly, but it soon became a strong driving wind. And, the actions and words of Pope Francis have been heard in our house and in the homes of the world. No doubt he has “rattled the cages” of those who want to keep things they have “always been” or even worse —- to turn the clock back to the 1950’s, or even before.
2. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
These tongues “as of fire” came to rest on each of them. The SPIRIT was given to all, not just a select few. Speaking to Italian Bishops on May 18th, 2015, Pope Francis asked the bishops to reinforce the “indispensable role” of ordinary folk in their dioceses. “In reality, lay people who have an authentic Christian formation shouldn’t need a bishop-pilot, or a monsignor-pilot, or clerical input to assume their responsibility at every level, from political to social, economic to legislative,” he said. “Rather, what they all need is a Bishop Pastor.”
Too many bishops believe that they — and they alone — have DIVINE wisdom. That gift comes through Confirmation and not ordination.
3. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
In the same address to Italian Bishops, Francis complained that the Church often organizes conferences where “the same voices” are heard over and over, an apparent reference to the practice of hosting only like-minded speakers of church-sponsored academic conferences. Such a practice, Francis said, “drugs the community, homogenizing choices, opinions of people. He urged bishops to go “where the Holy Spirit asks them to go.”
Too often, the aim seems, today, to have everyone in lock-step. Differing voices are not welcome. Those who ask questions or who show doubt are denigrated. Church facilities are closed to those who want to speak in dialogue on controversial issues.
4. ….they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked …..
It is quite possible that people of varying ethnic dialects heard the words in their own native tongues. Perhaps we could say, they heard the word spoken “to them where they were” …. and all were from “different places.” This would mean that we would live in a Church where married, single, and divorced people all heard a message that supported them and built them up. This would mean a Church that “spoke” with compassion and kindness to the immigrant, the refugee, and those who have lived here “always.” This would mean that those who are gay, straight, bi-sexual, and transgender, all felt a word of welcome and equality. This would mean that NO ONE felt left out — all would understand and be understood.
The Church would be required to speak in concrete, practical, real-life words — and not in Latin about what use to be in the “good old days.”
5. A Church of a new Pentecost would see that as a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. [1 Cor. 12:3-7, 12-13]
The body of the masses is ready for a new Pentecost. Some in leadership are ready for it and moving forward. A good example is the bishops of Germany who announced this week that so-called “morality clauses” that Church workers are required to sign will no longer exclude divorced and remarried couples or individuals who are living as gay men and women.
When the Vatican announces recognition for the Palestinian STATE and Raoul Castro is touched by the compassion of a Pope, we know things are changing and the SPIRIT is at work.
Let us Pray: Come Holy Spirit — Renew YOUR Church — Renew each of us — Renew the face of YOUR earth.