Sunday, May 31, 2020

+Pentecost+

Today’s gospel takes us back to Easter Sunday. The 1st disciples are huddled together with the doors locked, knowing they failed him, not sure what point there is to staying together.

Without the presence of Christ in our lives—in marriages, families, parishes—we huddle with a few and keep our heads down. We put in our time and kill time with whatever distractions are available.

Without a sense of mission—planted, nurtured, pruned in the give-and-take of communal life—a life of adoration and service becomes the practice of religion, a club few will want to join.

Parish, family, marriage, with all their warts, are where we learn to forgive those who went before us, where we learn about ourselves, where we become generative.

New insight and transformation are only had when we stop running away from painful situations—like being Catholic—and stay to face them.  As Jean Vanier wrote in Community and Growth:

“When we begin to live full time with others, we discover . . .our inability to get on with people, our mental and emotional blocks, our affective or sexual disturbances, our seemingly insatiable desires, our frustrations and jealousies…While we were alone, we could believe we loved everyone…Often we expect too much of people in community life.  We prevent them from discovering and accepting themselves as they are…But they have a right to be rotten, to have their own dark places, and corners of envy and even hatred in their hearts.  These jealousies and insecurities…are part of our wounded nature. That is our reality.  We have to learn to accept them and live with them without drama, and to walk towards liberation, gradually knowing ourselves to be forgiven.”[1]

We become a community, a Church, a school for disciples, a place of challenge and affection, only when the Risen Jesus unites us and sends us out to complete his work.

Suddenly present in our midst, the Risen Lord’s first words from the grave are without reproach, full of affection and confidence: “Peace be with you! As the Father sent me, so I send you.”

He shows us wounds made glorious by love: “I have overcome violence, hatred, and death. I know all about your betrayals and bickering, your fears and proud words.  I offer you my peace.  Learn who you are and who you may yet become.”

As God once breathed life into Adam, so now Jesus breathes into us his peace, his Spirit, his life given over completely to us. He empowers and sends us out to share his forgiveness.

Pentecost is about regeneration—with all our wounds—all about being equipped for service. Equipped for service because gradually I know myself to be forgiven.

Gradually, I will have the humility, the discipline, the esprit de corps to love you as you are.  Gradually, I may have the privilege of being midwife to your own growth in faith, hope, and love.

Our lives have a purpose beyond individual survival.  Our small actions are part of the total action of God. We can live with tranquility, gentleness, and strength.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

[1] NY: Paulist, 1979. p. 1&15.

 

 

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