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Scripture Reflection - June 5, 2022

Acts 2:1-11; Paul to the Corinthians 12:3B-7, 12-13; John 20: 19-23

Pentecost Sunday

Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York Scripture Reflection

Perhaps there is no greater gift in life then for one to offer Peace. This is as true today as it was over 2000 years ago when the apostles encountered the risen Christ in that heavily guarded upper room, so filled with fear and tension. The burial stone was rolled back. The body of Jesus had disappeared from the tomb; Peter and John would find the neatly folded burial cloths; the presence of two angels would mystify them. Mary Magdalen would have the singular privilege of being the first recorded witness to the resurrection and so, unanswered questions would be at the heart of the apostles’ fear and sense of abandonment. And then suddenly in that bolted room, Christ enters to shatter the longing, the fear, and the guilt that pervaded their hearts. Without any prolonged discussion, Jesus simply utters the words they most longed to hear; “Peace be with you!” No words of condemnation! Not even words of regret or disappointment. Jesus simply wishes to convey His unconditional love, His forgiveness, His longing to empower His followers, to re-direct their purpose in life, and to convey His trust that they would be worthy of His choice in them. Jesus knew that a soul must be at peace, must be confident in its power to bring about change. He never wavered in His decision to have this band of flawed and ordinary human beings be partners of His in the conversion and the salvation of the world. Jesus gently says: “As the Father has sent Me, even so, I send you.” In that same upper room, in the company of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, these fear-filled followers of our crucified and Risen Jesus are given courage and a mandate to receive the Holy Spirit, to be empowered to forgive, to help others to begin anew, to break the bars on locked hearts and dejected spirits, to fulfill and place each unique destiny at the service of others. Jesus breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit! Go out and make disciples of all the nations.” The sins you shall forgive will be forgiven…” This was an open invitation that came with a promise “that He would be with them always, even until the end of the world.”

We are bearers of the divine image; our breath mingles with the breath of Jesus, with the heartbeat of the Christ, emboldened by His Spirit to Be the change we wish to bring to a broken world. God’s wish for the world rises like incense with purpose, direction and grace. Father Craddock, a New Testament theologian puts it this way: “Without Pentecost, Easter reminds the church that Jesus has now gone to be with God and His followers are left alone in the world, (bereft of His Presence.) Without Pentecost, Easter offers us a risen Christ whose return to glory leaves the church to face the world armed with nothing but fond memories of how it once was when Jesus was here. But with Pentecost, Easter’s Christ promises to return and has returned in the Holy Spirit as comforter, guide, teacher and friend. With Pentecost, the church does not simply celebrate but participates in Easter.” With Pentecost, the risen Christ says “My peace I give unto you, a peace that the world cannot give” and “I am with you to the end of your days” (a clear hello and not goodbye).

Finally, let us zoom in on hope, the highest manifestation of the Spirit at Pentecost. ‘Hope is the thing with feathers/that perches in the soul’ wrote the poet Emily Dickinson. Hope leads us into an inner space, a journey space of encounter, commitment and involvement. And this, in turn, leads us to an important life question enfleshed by the poet priest, Malcolm Guite. “Where does the Spirit lead me? How might this new creation, offered by every Pentecost, present itself? Is it to a heightened awareness of our interdependence with each other and the whole created realm?” Does it present a simpler, gentler influence? In the first verse of a thought provoking poem, Guite muses thus: “Perhaps in all these crises, all this pain, this reassessment of our loss and gain, Nature rebukes our brief authority yet offers us the chance to start again and this time with a new humility…”

In this joyful spirit-filled celebration of Pentecost, there is comfort in knowing that we are all together in our ‘upper room’ the ‘place’ of our common vision, our corporate waiting… It is here that we discover that we must be icons of hope, a people with a new vision, a people that learn to see the world through the lenses of Christ, the Spirit, and the Church!

Sr. Anne Daniel Young, OP


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