Maryknoll priest who serves in Latin America reflects on the readings for Pentecost and how the Holy Spirit leads us to embrace dialogue and renewal in the Church.
Today we celebrate Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel, as the risen Jesus joins his disciples who are gathered in fear behind locked doors, Jesus shows his wounds and wishes them peace. Then he sends them in mission and breathes on them the Holy Spirit. They are not sent in mission alone, but with the Holy Spirit. So today, Pope Francis reminds us that we are not just followers of Jesus, but with our baptism we become missionary disciples led by the Spirit, going out to those in need.
In the first reading we hear the description of Pentecost itself. The disciples are gathered, they hear the sound of the wind and see the tongues of fire, and all are filled with the Holy Spirit. The disciples are empowered to make bold proclamations as the Spirit prompts them.
This scene brings to mind the moment we are living now in the Church. Pope Francis has invited us to prepare together for the next Synod by gathering, speaking boldly about where we are as Church, and also listening intently to one another so that the Spirit can renew the Church. Today’s second reading reminds us that we have a range of gifts and a diversity of work, and it is all inspired by the Spirit. In a way this reflects the richness and importance of walking together, reflecting and dialoging as Church.
At the first Pentecost there were people from many countries, and they marveled that each could understand the disciples in their own language. I think this is a blessing we as a Church and each of us as Christians wants to ask for this year. As we proclaim God’s love and God’s Kingdom, we pray that all be able to understand us, regardless of their political orientation, their race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation or place of birth. That all will be able to celebrate God’s love and the Spirit bringing forth God’s Kingdom.
In the Psalm for today we pray, “Lord send out your Spirit and renew the face of the Earth.” It is about the Spirit renewing the whole world and indeed the Earth itself. In Peru, where I worked, among the Aymara Indigenous peoples there is an awareness of God present in nature: in the hills, the water, and in the Earth. Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ calls us all to partner with the Spirit to face the urgent challenge to protect and renew the Earth.
So, this Pentecost, we renew our prayer: “Come Holy Spirit, come.”
Featured image: A scene is shown from Lake Titicaca where the Uros indigenous people make their homes. Maryknoll Father Michael Briggs draws from his mission experience in Latin America as he reflects on the Pentecost Sunday readings. (Deb Dowd, Unsplash/Peru)