By Sr. Catherine Cleary, OSB
How can you go away and yet stay? But this is exactly what happened to Jesus at Pentecost. Jesus’ going to God in his death is not a going away from the disciples but a coming and staying with us in a new way. The new way is symbolized by how Jesus encounters the disciples. After his death even though the doors are locked, Jesus appears in their midst. His new presence is not bound by physical limitation and as Thomas finds out, not properly known by physical inspection.
Jesus’ rising and the coming of the Holy Spirit in fire and wind cannot be held in time/space categories. We are in the land of faith; we dwell in the geography of mystery.
God and His Son continue to lead and guide us through the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit today. Pentecost, the Church’s celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit, is the feast of beauty and glory for it brings to full light the radiance of God’s love. This spring in particular shouts out the Spirit of the Lord Jesus is here among us.
The Spirit continues to breathe life and grace into creation. We enjoy the season of glorious pink, lavender and white fragrant blossoms and flowering trees and bushes. Gardens and green lawns are dotted by bold yellow and red tulips, tightly wound hyacinths and gaily colored daffodils. We see, we touch, and we smell the beauty of spring. And all of this, it seems to me, is the “hands on” reality of the Holy Spirit’s coming.
The Spirit came in tongues of fire enabling the apostles to speak in various tongues. And the Spirit was felt in a strong driving wind as it filled the entire house in which the apostles stayed. That same Spirit of the Father and the Son is alive and well in this time and place and is being poured out upon all who open their hearts to the truth and seek to do good.
That same spirit prompted hundreds of people to gather in prayer in Postville, Iowa on May 12, the anniversary of the Immigration Raid on the meat packing company. The same Spirit of truth fills the hearts of those hundreds and hundreds of young and old who share food with Food Pantries across the country, who serve meals to the hungry and who volunteer at nursing homes, hospitals and schools.
Pentecostal tongues of fire fell on the Holy Father this May when he encouraged Israaelis and Palestinians to settle their differences and to build peaceful homelands for both nations. We pray that the same Pentecostal tongues of fire fall on world leaders that they agree on disarmament and work for peace in the world.
And what if the strong, driving wind of the Spirit shook our parliaments, congresses and statehouses until all world and local leaders hammered out a plan so there would be food, housing, jobs, health care and education for every man, woman and child?
What if belief in the praying to the Holy Spirit enabled us to speak the same language about nuclear disarmament, immigration laws, the warming of our climate, a financial plan for social security, education and health care? What if we listened to the Spirit within our hearts and began to show tenderness, compassion, gratitude and love to every human person?