It seems no time at all since I wrote to you for Easter and here we are already coming up to the Feast of Pentecost.
We are all living in strange times, most of us in some kind of lockdown. We will celebrate Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, without being able to attend Mass in our churches but perhaps this enables us to have a deeper understanding and knowledge of Church – church as the people and family of God, church as the Body of Christ wherever we are gathered even when via technology.
Today, apart from the huge impact and suffering brought about by COVID 19, we live in a world full of lies, false promises, empty words, floods, fires, locusts, violence and economic gloom. How greatly we need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who gives us strength to face up to every challenge, the Spirit who empowers us to become missionary disciples so that we will welcome the stranger and recognise our common humanity and our duty to care for one another and for creation, our common home.
Pentecost is when we celebrate that God pours the Spirit into our hearts and it is the Spirit who helps us to confess that Jesus is Lord (1Cor:12:3) and binds us together as the Body of Christ (1Cor:12:3) The Spirit helps us to pray (Rom:8:26), intercedes for us with God (Rom:8:27), guides us (Gal:5:25) and helps us to live as Jesus lived (Gal:5:22-23).
Today, all of us live in multi cultural societies where God is praised in many languages (Acts:2:4-13) and this symbolically reinforces the multi lingual, multi cultural mission of the Church in which all people are drawn together in the love of God. As Paul writes “There is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
Pope Francis asks us to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit who brings harmony and unity and who makes us “artisans of concord, sowers of goodness, apostles of hope and missionary disciples. Then the Spirit is peace in our restlessness, confidence in the midst of our discouragement, joy in sadness, and courage in time of trial. Just as the gifts of the Spirit turned the hearts of the frightened disciples huddled behind closed doors to bold witnesses to Jesus (John 15:27) so too the Spirit impels us to live lives of service and love for others.” The late Daniel O’Leary wrote that “the Holy Spirit is present in the innermost mystery of all things and may be understood as the invisible power at work in a continually evolving universe. The Holy Spirit allows us to see God in the everyday, the divine in the worldly and the transcendent in the ordinary.” The Holy Spirit blows where it wills and never ceases to surprise us.
Let us celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit by praying for one another that we may each receive the particular gifts and fruits that we especially need at this time and pray also that the Holy Spirit will guide us in our process of restructuring so that we become the enlivened and generous missionary disciples which God intended us to be.
With my love and prayers
Sister Maureen, FMSJ