Dear One and All,
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost: we hear in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles that the Spirit of God, is poured out as ‘gift’ on the Apostles, who had gathered together out of fear, and were then transformed into a group filled with the breath, and adventurous Spirit of God as made known to them in Jesus. They then became fearless and joyful proclaimers of the nearness of God’s Kingdom. Today in God’s Word we hear echoes from the Old Testament Prophet Ezekiel 36:24-28 who hundreds of years before, looked forward to an outpouring of God’s Spirit. Let us see what the Prophet had to say: ‘I will gather my people from among the nations, and bring you home to your own land. I will pour clean water over you, and cleanse you of all defilement. I will take away your hearts of stone, and give you hearts for love instead. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will keep my laws and sincerely observe my commandments. You will be my people, and I will be your God.’
Christian tradition has called this Feast the Birth of the Church! However, its Religious origins go back to Old Testament times, when our ancestors in faith celebrated the initiating of the Covenant between YHWH (the Lord God), and His people, through Moses on Mt. Sinai. This Covenant is summed up in the last line from the Prophet Ezekiel: “you will be my people, and I will be your God.’ That event marked a ‘special’ stage in the ‘corporate mind’ of our ancestors in faith, as they realized that they were truly God’s People. Later on, it was also celebrated as the Feast of Harvest. What an appropriate time for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the maturing Apostles! At Pentecost, the Apostles and Mary, were transformed from a community gathered out of ‘waiting’ into a community of loving out-reach, and gentle boldness in their missionary ventures. The language of Pentecost defies all spoken language…. it is the words of loving action, and identification with, and a belonging to the Living Lord, who urged the Apostles and urges us to ‘Go out’ to all nations as living witnesses of our God, who ‘is with us’… at all times, even to the end of the world.
This Solemnity is a strong reminder to all of us of the Gifts of the Spirit that we have been given, and the responsibility that we all have in nourishing and using the Spirit’s Gifts. Wisdom, Understanding, Right Judgment, Courage, Knowledge, Reverence, Awe and Wonder. These Gifts are not internal ornaments, they are living and they need nurturing. How can we nurture a ‘living gift’? It would seem that a way of doing this could well be a frequent visit to each of these God-given-gifts and to sit with them…..How does this gift…Understanding show itself in me? Do I let this gift speak to me when I am faced with misunderstanding? How can I give more lustre to this gift? If we go through each gift from time to time like this, the gifts will not be dormant, but be alive and nourishing to all that we do and say. The Holy Spirit’s Gifts need attention, just like the Roses in our Garden. Food for thought!
We live in a multi cultural society, and the differences in language and custom can easily reinforce the barriers which are counterproductive in the process of local and national identity. If we are truly spirit-filled people the language barrier is dissolved through listening, acceptance of diversity, and a desire to look for the goodness in each other. If we are intent in pursuing nit picking and negativity in new comers to our country, and in those who have their roots deep within this land, we run the high risk of cramping the creativity of the Holy Spirit because our hearts would be hearts of stone. Perhaps the following prayer could be in our hearts and on our lips this day. ‘Holy Sacred Spirit, breathe your breath on us. Holy Sacred Spirit, breathe your life in us’. Words by Monica Brown, Song Album: A REMEMBERING HEART. God Bless you and your families, and may we never forget each other in prayer.
A REFLECTION ON FIRE.
from the beginning of time
gives new energy
to our Universe.
That same fire kindled from tiny sparks
warm and welcoming,
beckons us home
calls us in from the cold.
In fire, burning mysteriously
within a bush,
God called Moses
to lead his people forth to freedom.
A pillar of fire led those same people
through the wilderness of their wandering
to occupy a new and fruitful land.
It was fire
that Jesus promised
to cast upon the earth
and wished that it were blazing already.
On the day of Pentecost,
appeared as living flame
touching the faith, inspiring courage
in those who first believed.
Today this same Pentecost flame
has still the power
to reach those
struggling to believe,
and bring fresh meaning
to their search and their discoveries.
Fire of belief! Fire of action!
Fire of hope! Fire of the Future!