Acts of the Apostles 2: 1-11 + Psalm 104 + 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13 + John 20: 19-23
May 28, 2023 (This weekend I serve at the Maronite Parish in Tequesta, Fl)
We like to think that there was something miraculous going on with the Pentecost story that Luke gives us in the first reading today. Thinking that way is to forget that the Sacred Scriptures are not recording history. To get all curious or excited about how those apostles were able to speak in different tongues is a silly distraction. To think that this is some kind of miracle is to miss the real miracle being described here. The real miracle here is that of a bunch of cowardly, frightened men hiding out in a locked room suddenly had the courage to come out, and not just peek out, but burst out on fire with news that God has raised up a crucified man and made him Lord and Messiah.
What ought to leave us stunned is what happens when the Holy Spirit enters into cautious, timid, and not too courageous people whose faith gets shaken by tragedy and whose expectations get crushed by the reality of power abused and sinful ambition.
What ought to leave us stunned is what happens when that risen Messiah suddenly stands in that locked up room, and with a breath drives out fear and sadness restoring all creation to peace.
What ought to leave us stunned is how little of that peace has blown around this world, and how few people seem to have enough fire and courage to do anything about it.
The stories we preserve in our tradition and tell on this day can still unleash that creative breath. The power of God’s Word can still fill us with Joy and open up minds and hearts that are locked up by a narrow and privileged ways of thinking. In this day and age, when no part of the world is unreachable and every language can be translated in an instant, it is time to appreciate the unavoidable and blessed awareness that we are all part of one another and can no longer think in terms of them or those. It’s only “us.”
This Feast of Pentecost holds the promise of yet another miracle, one that will bring peace from people like us who remember that we have been sent into the wild and wonderful variety of God’s creation with the gifts that the Spirit within us brings. To do that will require that we broaden our outlook, question those dogmatic assumptions we use to protect ourselves and ask the Spirit for guidance. Pentecost is not a date on the calendar.
Every day is Pentecost because we have been stunned by grace and God’s mercy. We have been made new, brought to life, and have nothing to fear.