Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-11
1 Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13
John 20: 19-23
Today is the Feast of Pentecost. We celebrate: 1) the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples – their Confirmation – 2) the birthday of the Church, and 3) the close of the Easter season. We also celebrate the re-opening of our Catholic churches in the State of Ohio and our return to the public celebration of Mass – and now with many protocols and restrictions to be followed, as Ohio gradually re-opens.
The coronavirus pandemic is being contained, but it has not been conquered with a sure remedy or vaccine. We wonder where to go from here. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can learn valuable lessons from our vulnerability that will make us even better disciples of Jesus.
Right here, right now, is the place that we grow in our discipleship. The disciples, along with Mary, were practicing “social distancing” – being apart from their families and townspeople – as they awaited the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them on that first Pentecost. They were “sheltered in place,” in fear and in prayer, in that upper room. They were afraid that what had happened to Jesus would happen to them, now that He had risen and ascended to heaven. They clenched their teeth and perspired in panic.
Our world right now is much like that upper room. We have been locked down, schools and businesses have been closed. Technology has become one of our lifelines. And technology may well be the Holy Spirit’s tool to increase our hope during these times of isolation. So I encourage you: allow the Holy Spirit to speak and to console you, even online.
My brothers and sisters, let us take hold of the opportunities these dawning “new normal” days present, and allow Pentecost to change our hearts right now. In the wake of disease and loss, we can break down walls and barriers that have kept us apart – even when we were able to be together [such as racial prejudice]. The Church desperately needs us to minister to one another – and to those who need God right now.
When we take Pentecost seriously, we live with a new sense of the abundance of God’s blessings, and not the scarcity – and minister to each other with the conviction that God is never outdone in His generosity.
God blesses each of us in different ways with His bountiful gifts of time and talent and treasure. And, in our gratitude, we all have something to share. So very often God uses us to be the instruments of His blessings to others, and others to us.
We hope and pray that the end of the coronavirus pandemic will soon come. Pentecost is our blueprint of hope as we leave our rooms of fear and begin to re-enter the world with love and confidence and conviction through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus came and stood in the midst of His disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” He says the very same to us right now. “Peace.”