Friday, June 10, 2011

Pentecost:Too Good to be True?

  This Sunday the Church celebrates the feast of Pentecost.  Pentecost is also a Jewish feast.  The word simply means "50 days" in Greek, 50 days after Passover, and fifty days after Easter.  We celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and with that the birth of the Church, though it can be said that the Church was born on the Cross or even at the Annunciation.  I won't enter into debate over that issue. There is truth in all 3 approaches. Suffice it to say that it is one of the three major feasts of the Church along with Holy Week/Easter,  and Christmas.
   For the former two feasts the Churches are full, drawing even those who do not come to Church regularly.  Why is this?  While there are probably many answers for this I think that deep down even those of us who believe find it too good to be true. We can believe that God took human flesh in Jesus, or that Jesus rose from the dead,but Pentecost calls us to believe that the Holy Spirit not only descended on the apostles, but that the Holy Spirit dwells in you and me, and brings the mysteries of Christmas and Easter to life in us over and over again.

   I think that somewhere deep inside of us we like to keep God at a distance-in past history, in an ark, in a temple, in a Church, in the tabernacle.  Now don't get me wrong, it would be heresy to deny the presence of god, of Christ, in the above mentioned places.  The point is that we can more readily believe in those things than we can believe that God, through the Holy Spirit, dwells in me, in you, in the Church as the Body of Christ. When this happens we get caught up in externals, in what direction the altar should face, what language music and what to use.  Now I don't deny that  Eucharist and the other sacraments should be celebrated properly and with the right combination of reverence and joy, of common unity blended with local cultural expression, but when we put so much energy and even anger into this discussion we are not a calling on the presence of the Spirit among us.  When we put too much emphasis on the business affairs of the Church while the world around us is torn by war, violence and injustice, we are not attending then to the Spirit dwelling amongst us.We argue that we are not worthy.   Of course we're not.  The Spirit  comes as gift in spite of our unworthiness.  The challenge for us is what do we do with the gift.

   The answer is that we allow the Spirit to work in us, each according to his or her gifts, to make a difference in the world, through prayer, action and witness, and at the same time to build a vibrant Church, not one according to our own likes and tastes, but the Church that the Spirit is striving to build through us. Let us make our own on this  wonderful feast the ancient prayer of the Church--"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful. En-kindle in them the fire of your love.  Send forth  your Spirit among us and renew the face of the earth."

   I invite you to click on the link below for a rendition of the traditional hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, sung in Latin with English translation.  It beautifully expresses what this Feast is about.

Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit)

  By the way in many parishes people are invited to wear red to Church this week.  That is the liturgical color for the feast, the color of the tongues of fire which descended upon the apostles.  I think that this is a great custom

1 comment:

  1. Yes, so true that what we should be about as Church is to "allow the Spirit to work in us, each according to his or her gifts, to make a difference in the world." For anyone wanting to celebrate Pentecost in a lively, Spirit-filled way, you are invited to the 9th Annual Pentecost Evening of Healing to be held at St. Matthew Catholic Church this Sunday night, June l2, at 6:30 p.m. St. Matthew is at 9lll 90th Ave. N., in Largo, FL off Starkey Road at 90th Ave. N.

    Praise and worship music, a teaching by published author of 4 books on healing, prayer and refreshments...all are invited to come and see what the Holy Spirit has for you!