PENTECOST 2023 – REFLECTION
After the death of Jesus the disciples became a very fragmented group, uncertain about the future, full of grief for the loss of Jesus, their lives seemingly in a cul-de-sac, out of which they could not find a way. Fear has a way of terrorising our inner spirit. It can freeze our thinking and bring us to a place of great darkness. Sometimes when our fears are deep and tormenting, we find some refuge by staying indoors, in a space where we can literally hide away from the world. This is what happened to the disciples after the death of Jesus. They are now gathered in an upper room, probably the same one where they had the Last Supper with Jesus. There was much fear and anxiety in this room. These men thought the same fate awaited them as happened to Jesus. They sit together, crippled by fear. In contrast to this there is the powerful image of the Holy Spirit, a fiery, yet calming presence. This Spirit, as Jesus promised to send, is not like a spring breeze but more like a whirlwind that lays flat all barriers to its force. This Spirit embraces the disciples and fills them with a new energy, new enthusiasm and a new authority.
They leave this upper room ready to face the world, to carry on the mission of Jesus, full of conviction, determination and courage. They go into the market squares where people gather and the disciples proclaim to all how they have been changed by the Holy Spirit. They share with others how God has worked wonders through them. Like Mary, the Mother of Jesus, they too proclaim that “the Almighty works marvels for us, Holy is his name.” Their joy and enthusiasm win over many new believers. They animate all whom they encounter and inspire the founding of new Christian communities.
“When we pray for the Spirit’s help, we will simply fall down at the Lord’s feet in our weaknesses. There we will find victory and power and strength that comes from His love.” (Andrew Murray). I imagine the disciples constantly knelt in prayer for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Saint John says, “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (St. John: 14:26). The early group of disciples realised their daily need for the power of the Holy Spirit in their ministry and in all the good works they carried out in the memory of Jesus. St. Paul tells us, “We are God’s temple and the Holy Spirit dwell within.” (1 Cor: 3:16).
On this great Feast of Pentecost which is referred to as the birthday of the Church, may all of us pray for an indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. We need the Spirit in our lives if we are to give fidelity and witness to Christ, if we are to be carriers of God’s love, mercy and compassion. An ancient Christian prayer to the Holy Spirit is one we can pray each day, a prayer whose sentiments are gathered from the centuries of devotion to the Spirit. In these days of PARISH PARTNERSHIP meetings and reflection in building for the future, let us all pray: “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created and you will renew the face of the earth.”