Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On Pentecost Sunday, over time, we have heard the above prayer and it seems to say well I believe what each of us needs as we welcome the Spirit more fully into our lives on this Sunday. We marveled I’m sure listening to the reading from Acts at all the manifestations of power that those 1st disciples exhibited and we almost dream for those times when we could do the same—when the Spirit would touch us in that same way. But my friends, we do have that same power; we just must use it!
Many times Pentecost is called the birthday of the Church because it was on that day, blessed by a power beyond themselves—the holy Spirit of Jesus, that the apostles finally went public—they left the Upper Room that had become a place of hiding, to meet the world and proclaim without fear that Jesus had lived, died, rose from the dead and now lived eternally with the God of all life—to state in fact that he had forever changed their lives and the lives of everyone! These disciples and friends of Jesus, were now armed, not with swords and spears as one would expect if they were to physically take over a nation—take their land back from the Romans, as many of these 1st followers thought that Jesus, as the Messiah was about. No, these disciples were armed with the strength and power of the very Spirit of God. Their weapons to fight evil and renew the face of the earth were the gifts of language, spoken in a way that all tongues could understand; the gift of words to preach as Jesus had, opening the hearts and minds of all who heard them.
I think we marvel when we read these scriptures about Jesus’ first followers speaking in a way that everyone could hear, but what we must realize is that these first followers were availing themselves to the power of the Spirit and she spoke through them. I say “she” because in the Old or First Testament Scriptures, the Spirit has traditionally been the feminine face of God in the entity, Sophia. Pentecost seems a good time to unearth the inclusiveness of our Great God!
I think sometimes we assume, and this is part of the “marveling,” if you will, that this first Pentecost was a different time and place and that we here today can only observe and say, “Wasn’t that great!” But, really friends, we must be aware that the language that was heard, the message all these different visitors to Jerusalem heard, was the language of love. When we “show up” as author Anna Quindlen is fond of saying, the Spirit can speak the message of love through us too, to a world that so needs to hear it, to embrace it!
Last week I invited us to think of our own confirmations in our faith, either on that day or another day when we committed, in some way to following more fully our brother, Jesus. That is where we are at on this day—on Pentecost Day—we are being asked again to re-commit—if being a Christian really means anything to us. We all profess to be Catholics and that is the place we start—but it strikes me that what we must strive for really, is to be, Christians. What we attempt to do here at All Are One is the latter—we aren’t ultimately bound by rules and regulations—denominational religion falls into this trap unfortunately, from time to time. As Christians we are ultimately bound by love and must always ask, what is the loving thing to do?—not, what do the rules say?
The Scriptures tell us that these disciples were filled with joy to move out in truth and love, to share Jesus’ goodness, mercy, and justice with all that they met. And we know that they brought many into the Church that first day—they were irresistible to all who met them, heard them, saw them—they were authentic, they were true and people wanted what they had! And again, we reflect, why can’t that happen to us?—and again I repeat—it can, my friends—it can!
Sometimes we look at what is wrong in our Church and our first reaction is to look at whom we can blame. And while that is understandable, it is not of the Spirit on this Pentecost Sunday or that 1st Pentecost Sunday either. The Spirit came upon those first disciples to set them on fire to go out and preach truth to power, share the love that had been so generously given to them by Jesus, care for the needy, help those who couldn’t help themselves, be hope for our world.
Each of us, my friends have been called by God for a special task—each of us has a voice—if we but use it—speak up when you see the injustices, the actions that are not of love, but of power. Let us ask the Loving Spirit of Jesus today to renew within each of us that initial fervor and speak our truth wherever we can—be it in our world, city, in our churches, which some of you attend besides coming here—call for reform—call for justice and demand that finally the love of Jesus be made evident in not only all that we speak, but more importantly in all that we do—where finally, finally, all are welcome at our tables of celebration, regardless of status, gender or lifestyle. Where finally, finally, women are blessed and not considered less, people to use who are expendable—where finally, finally, the laity is included in real decision making about who leads us—where finally and at last all are one in the Spirit of Jesus—these things, as we know, won’t come because we wish for it to happen—we all must speak truth to power and finally, finally become Pentecost people, living out our call to be truly followers of Jesus, the Christ! Come, Spirit Come and enkindle in us the fire of Jesus.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his friends that he is sending them—we are included in that sending—and we must not fear, because we are not alone—Jesus said—I will be with you! And here is where we must break out of the binds that religion has put us in to be truly Pentecost people. Jesus gave us as Church people all that we need when he said, this world is yours—what you bind will be bound, what you loose will be loosed! Come; Spirit, come! Amen! Alleluia!