Pentecost Sunday - Spirit of New Life

"The Holy Spirit is alive and well and making mischief..."
- Sr. Simone Campbell

For Fifty Days we have lived and breathed the miracle of Easter/Pentecost.  Hopefully we have reflected and understood - better than ever before - that this is not just a spectacular episode of Salvation History that happened a long time ago, but that it still touches us with its reverberations.  For us as a people of faith, Easter/Pentecost is NOW.  It is the continuing invitation from our God for an ongoing, ever new encounter with Him and with others.

The impact of the entrance of Jesus into human history is an unending source of power and challenge in every age.  The miracle of God becoming man is unending. It continues to touch out minds and hearts and lives, to challenge us, to invite us to change.

Change is always threatening.  The human spirit is really torn in two directions. We have a deep hunger for stability and security, but we are also aware of a profound thirst for knowledge, for growth and improvement, for expanding horizons and fulfilling innate potentials.  We have to break out of ourselves if we really want to live.

And so God offers to us a model in the Easter/Pentecost mystery.  He enters the human condition to encounter us personally, and to enable us to encounter others.  The Incarnation led to Easter and Pentecost. The Son of God in our flesh leads us through life, through death, to resurrection.  Jesus clearly promises that this mystery will continue to evolve down the centuries through the constant outpouring of the Spirit.

Pentecost is not just a feast. It is not just the "birthday of the Church."  It is a "state of mind." It is the "soul" of Christianity.  It is the unending miracle of God's love poured out in the hearts of believers.  It is the abiding power-source of Gospel living.

And it is not just a personal gift to the faith-filled.  It is a gift to all of creation.  It is the fulfillment of God's promise to "Change the face of the Earth."

Jesus breathed new life into his disciples. First, by his greeting, “Peace be with you” - which were reconciling words to them after they failed him so miserably during the Passion and Crucifixion and then he bids them peace again and with that, he began a new creation by his breath - the Spirit. They are commissioned to take this reconciling peace and to proclaim it to the world. But that’s not the end of the story. By his breath Jesus has given us a new Spirit. We are also re-created with the breath of life. Breathing new life into us Jesus sends us out to take his breath into the world. That is who we are.

We cannot and must not be passive.  We must not resist change, but welcome it, foster it.  Above all, we must not fear the movements of the Spirit, but embrace them with trust, with generosity and with courage.

The message of Jesus is intended for all people, in all times and places.  The language of Jesus is the language of the spirit, one that transcends nationalities and all other divisive elements.  We must learn the language of the Spirit.  Change and diversity are integral elements of the vocabulary of the Spirit.

If we understand and accept the Easter/Pentecost mystery, we should realize how the church of Christ is enriched by the great variety of cultures and thought that come to celebrate unity of heart and mind in the spirit of Pentecost.  Diversity is not to be an obstacle or a threat to us, but rather a beginning point towards unity.  This oneness in faith and love is the strongest evidence that Jesus and His spirit are in fact working among us to bring all people together in the peace and justice of God's kingdom.

St. Paul tells: "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. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit."  (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13)  Who we are and what we are is less important than what we are called to do.  Jesus has breathed His Spirit into each of us and we each are part of the community of God's people… a community that is ever-changing, ever-diverse and ever-growing.

John XXIII said that "we are not here to guard a museum, but to cultivate a flourishing garden of life."  The Holy Spirit is the gardener who has planted the seeds. It is up to us to bring the harvest of that garden to fruition.

It is only by becoming fully a part of this Easter/Pentecost miracle - when we participate in this "mischief" of the Spirit - that we can ever hope to overcome the evils of our time and become instruments of the Spirit, to create a new world of unity and peace, and happiness and holiness.