May 28, 2017

Reflection for Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost Sunday

By Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois

Pentecost is one of the most joyful feasts on the Christian liturgical calendar. For fifty days the Church has been celebrating the great mysteries of Easter, most notably the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pentecost is the conclusion of the Easter season. Today, the familiar story of Pentecost will be the first reading. The Spirit blows through the upper room where the disciples are hiding and, according to tradition, resides over each of them as tongues of fire. The disciples burst forth from that upper room to preach, teach, baptize, and celebrate the Eucharist. Most of them were martyred for their faith. Courage, strength, love, resolve, faith, and conviction were the marks of the apostles as they began their ministry to the known world after that experience of the Holy Spirit in the upper room.

Each Pentecost the Church prays that the same Spirit will make his appearance once again. The wind and fire of the first Pentecost is needed today as much as the apostles needed it while hiding in the upper room. The faithful hide today as they did in biblical times. Why? First, some want to sideline religious discussion and keep it far from influencing any policy or government action. They believe that religion is irrelevant to public discourse. If it has to exist at all, it does so as a quaint practice performed on Sunday mornings far removed from the “real work” of governments, business, healthcare, and education. The faithful have been convinced that religious discourse and conversation is solely a private matter. Second, the faith of Christians ought to be joyfully lived by each individual in his or her own life of home, work, and school. Some are afraid to do so. Again, religion is a private matter, or so polite society has declared. Leave your faith at the door, please. And so the Church hides as the apostles hid in the early Church.

On this Pentecost Sunday, let us ask the Spirit to blow through our Churches and communities. Let us open our hearts, minds, and souls to the presence of the Spirit as tongues of fire over our heads. The call of the early disciples is our call! Let’s stop hiding and commit ourselves to living our faith with joy and with the same courage and resolve as did the early Church. The point of this column is to call each individual Christian to live his or her faith as did the apostles after Pentecost. From the Spirit each person seeks courage, strength, love, resolve, faith, and conviction. As the apostles burst forth with love and joy, so today’s Christians are in desperate need of the same energy that inspired the apostles.

Do you have any idea the effect the Church could have on the world? A committed Christian can bring hope, love, forgiveness, and life to his or her world. A Christian who has been “fired up” by the Spirit does not tolerate hatred, racism, bigotry, gossip, cheating, or lack of respect for human life. If Christians live the Gospel, inspired by the Holy Spirit, they can bring the teachings and life of Jesus Christ to all whom they meet.

The influence of faith has a place in your home, workplace, in the voting booth, and among friends and family. Armed with the message of Christ, Christians can change the world! Let’s not be afraid to live the faith! Let’s not hide because some in society consider it impolite to discuss faith or morals, or what influences or scares you. Two caveats are important here. First, this column is suggesting that faith influence people only; it is not proposing that a religious organization run the government. Second, there is a fine line between sharing one’s faith and becoming arrogant or pushy. That line needs to be kept firmly in place. Arrogance has no place in Christian discourse.

Let’s pray that at this Pentecost the Spirit will blow through the homes of Christians everywhere inspiring them to live their faith with joy and courage. The values that come through Christian faith have the potential of transforming the world into a place of love, peace, and joy. Let’s get to it! Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth person by person!

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