May 31, 2020
What a couple of months we have been through! And clearly, this “thing” – whatever you call it – is far from over. All of us have had to reorganize our lives, our routines, our roles in some way or another. We’ve all changed in what we feel safe doing, and in what we don’t and may never again. Some families are unwillingly separated from their loved ones because of COVID; other families have chosen to be separated for the sake of keeping others safe. Who would have thought that there would be style competitions with face masks?!
But we figure it out as we go along and will continue to figure it out. We adapt and adjust and re-acclimate. We find new ways of doing things and learn to get along without other things; we reshuffle our priorities and our expectations. And as these weekends have demonstrated, what we’ve had to do in everyday life is certainly true when it comes to our faith life, as well, isn’t it?
Over the past almost-three months, through most of Lent and Holy Week and the entire Easter Season we’ve discovered another way to pray together through the wizardry of technology, and in doing so maybe even discovered new hungers for a relationship with Christ. Some of us come to Mass this weekend, but we have to gather in a new way, separated but not, reluctantly masked or not. Or maybe we don’t gather; we stay home where we feel safer for the time being, not quite ready to face the close proximity of the crowds.
In many ways, what we experienced in these weeks has many parallels with what the early Church experienced, not because of a coronavirus, but, they, too, were trying to negotiate a new way of life -and a new way of faith- that was very different from what they knew. They were discovering a way of life with Christ, the Risen Lord, and they found that it wasn’t easy. There were challenges that they never dreamed of having to face; obstacles they never thought they would have to deal with.
But they were, and we are, a resilient bunch, aren’t we? I have come to believe that resiliency is really less about our own creativity or strength or accomplishment but, rather, it is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit that is given to anyone eager or scared or cautious or brave enough to believe. Through will and wonder the Holy Spirit gives us a gift of resiliency.
Will and wonder: these gifts are not traditionally associated with the Holy Spirit, but on this particular Pentecost, I think they are gifts we all need, gifts we have witnessed and gifts we can share.
Will is more than discipline, more than courage. Borrowing the words of Sr. Rosemarie Nassif, will “incorporates grit and sustained persistence to overcome obstacles when pursuing passion.” Isn’t that a great description of the gathering at the first Pentecost?! With grit and sustained persistence, the believers overcame obstacles in the pursuit of their passion in Christ. Isn’t that the gift of the Holy Spirit we need right now, folks? Where will we be tomorrow without the sustained persistence of our faith? What will the world look like tomorrow without our grit today – to love as we have been loved, forgive as we have been forgiven, to live in the hope that Christ has given to this world?
(And )wonder –Wonder allows God to fill the emptiness that this world cannot fill. Wonder opens eyes to see the innate worth of every person that shares life with us. Wonder inspires us to reach out with compassion and mercy even when it seems senseless. Wonder allows us to hear the voice of God in every voice of creation. Wonder helps us discover the Story at work in our lives that is bigger than our own personal story, a Story which we don’t write, but to which we are invited to participate.
You want to know the power of Pentecost? Look around, my friends. Look around and see the powerful will of life and love that is displayed every day. Look around and see the wonder and awe of a kingdom being revealed ever before us even as an old way of life passes away. See beyond any inconvenience, all the politics, past the unfortunate rhetoric and see that God is at work. That, my friends, is Pentecost!