Sunday May 23, 2021
Dear Followers of Jesus,
COVID-19 took away the breath of hundreds of thousands of people in this past year. The ventilator has become an image of hope during this virus. We struggle to catch our breath while wearing a mask. We stop our breath and hold our mouth as we hear of the next person who has died or who has lost a job or their life in racial conflict. “I can’t breathe”, is a very familiar sentence we cannot forget from our last year. Breathing freely is our hope for those stricken with disease, conflict and racial tensions. Breathing. Jesus invites us into such a mystery.
In today’s gospel, John 20: 19-23, Pentecost is revealed behind locked doors, only hours after the resurrection. “Peace” is the first word uttered from Christ’s resurrected breath. Peace becomes balm for fear. His breath becomes our new life in the Holy Spirit. His breath remains with us beyond the closed room. His breath renews our lives and offers consolation for the world for all eternity. His breath uttering peace is the desire of our souls.
Pentecost refreshes our understanding of what life is about. Pentecost is the Church taking a deep breath and realizing that our breath is what we have in common with those whom we think are completely different from ourselves. Our breath holds the Holy Spirit within us. Our breath is a reminder we are born again in Jesus’ dying and rising. The Holy Spirit does not fade away or given partially or in increments. There is no golden age of the Spirit. We receive the same breath of hope, the same miracle of joy, as did the disciples.
Many people will glaze over such a feast. We may think Pentecost is only something the Church celebrates dressed in red that remains contained in the sanctuary. Yet, Pentecost becomes the container where we ask ourselves some important questions. For in our hearts, God dwells. Pentecost is the birth day and the birthday of the Church.
We have an opportunity to ask such questions as: What if we breathed in genuine hope for the first time? What if this hope could change our perspective toward people on the margins of society and Church? Could this breath sustain our young so hopelessness and meaninglessness would not penetrate them? Could this breath teach us how to care for the earth, feed the hungry, and provide adequate pay to the people who teach our children, and who care for our elderly parents?
What if breathing deeply into the life of the Holy Spirit could change how we view our own lives? Could Pentecost teach us not to hate so to offer the world non-violence? Could we settle our differences by taking in the breath of God rather than holding our breath in rage, indifference and violence? These questions become our spiritual work and reflection.
Our way out of the pandemic is God’s initiative in you and me. The Holy Spirit is trying to teach us something as we live in our bodies. We cannot remain stuck in our heads. Change is a dirty word for many people. Pentecost is the source of change. Pentecost is an opportunity for people to understand the suffering of the human race. This feast pushes us out of the nest of Easter and into the world to live the consolation and peace of Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit compels us to get to work and to quit moaning about our lives. This breath of life drives us into union and communion with our brothers and sisters.
Pentecost is more than adhering to regulations in the Church, hoping they will give us eternal life. Pentecost is a breath of fresh air that reveals meaning, depth and purpose here on earth. We all carry a responsibility within our human bodies to breath in the gift of faith, hope and love.
The Holy Spirit pushes on our chests so we may breath deeply in love and forgiveness. The Holy Spirit then pushes us out into the world so we may become people of integrity. We are to love and not cave in to despair. We are to act in kindness and not resort to holding our breath in cynicism or apathy.
Pentecost opens new possibilities about who we are and what God wants us to become. We know Pentecost is real when we receive the stranger in midst and listen to their story before Mass. Pentecost opens doors and softens hearts. The Holy Spirit helps us hold the hand of the dying or the newborn child in joy. Pentecost promises life forever in God.
The Holy Spirit guides us to stop worrying about our futures and helps us pursue the task of serving other people even when a pandemic threatens to take our breath away.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
God give you peace,