A Call to be the Fire of Love, Integrity, and Compassion
As I anticipate this upcoming feast of Pentecost there is a deep yearning within me to see and experience some signs of newness, change and renewal. The Pentecost experience that we hear proclaimed in this Sunday readings speaks of the outpouring of the Spirit as the birth of the church. The reading from the Acts of the Apostles recorded the events which transformed the once reluctant disciples, fearful of the Romans and Jewish leaders, into fearless proclaimers and evangelizers of Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Are we content with simply remembering the past and celebrating what happened thousands of years ago? Where and how do we experience the presence of Christ and the boldness of the Spirit today? Where and how do we experience the winds of life and goodness blowing new life in the places where disciples of Christ gather? Where and how are we touched by the presence of Christ and the Spirit as if tongues of fire came down and rested on each believer? Where and how are we moved to go forth fearless and empowered to be witnesses and evangelizers incarnating Christ’s presence in our world today?
What might this change look like in our church, in our national government and throughout the world? Dare we hope to see ourselves, our ordained leaders, ministers and our civic and national leaders as servants of the people? Imagine how engaged and enlivened people and communities would become if they felt that their voices were heard and that the concerns of those most in need were respected, realized and fulfilled.
I’ve heard the following or similar words repeated over and over on TV, on the radio and from common folks, “We are allowing bizarre behavior to become normalized without complaining, questioning or calling for change.” Have we allowed our spirits and souls to become lulled and complacent into thinking that either individually or even together we cannot make a difference or change a seemingly hopeless situation?
One has only to read the newest document, Gaudete et Exsultate, of Pope Francis to be reaffirmed and challenged with how much we can do as persons of faith and communally as people of faith. In the section entitled Boldness and Passion (129-133), Pope Francis writes that holiness is parrhesía, that is, holiness is to live with a boldness and with freedom. This boldness or freedom is not grounded in ourselves or in our own ego. In order for our boldness and freedom to be genuine and used for the goodness and well-being of others it must be rooted in Christ and open to following the will of God.
As we celebrate this Pentecost let us truly be renewed and enlivened by the Spirit of God. “We need the Spirit’s prompting, lest we be paralyzed by fear and excessive caution, lest we grow used to keeping within safe bounds. Let us remember that closed spaces grow musty and unhealthy. When the Apostles were tempted to let themselves be crippled by danger and threats, they joined in prayer to implore parrhesía: “And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29). As a result, “when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
Let our spirits, our places of worship and gathering be shaken with the boldness of God’s compassionate and loving Spirit. “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.”
Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board President
Take time this week and read Gaudete et Exsultate.
May our hearts be open to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which You bestow on us freely, we pray…
With the grace of the Holy Spirit within us, may we act with boldness to renew the face of the earth, we pray…
Collect Prayer: (From Mass During the Day)
O God, who by the mystery of today’s great feast
sanctify your whole Church in every people and nation,
pour out, we pray, the gifts of the Holy Spirit
across the face of the earth
and, with the divine grace that was at work
when the Gospel was first proclaimed,
fill now once more the hearts of believers.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.