Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Some thoughts about Pentecost

We are now in the time between the Ascension and Pentecost. Last Sundays Gospel narrated the story of Jesus taking leave of the disciples and being carried up into heaven. The nine days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday is the first novena which was ever prayed, in which the disciples gathered together with Our Lady to pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In this Sundays Gospel Jesus says that He will sent down what the Father has promised, the Holy Spirit, but what does this mean? If the ordinary comprehension of the disciples of what Jesus is about is an indication I would suggest they didn’t have a clue either. And while they were full of joy when they saw Jesus being taken up into the clouds, we can read in the Gospel of Luke that when Pentecost came they were afraid as usual and locked themselves up in the upper room. However we now know what happened to them, and how it transferred the disciples from being hidden and locked up by themselves into the preachers which stand up boldly and address the crowds telling them that Jesus has risen!

Does this event have any relation to my own praying of the novena for this outpouring of the Holy Spirit, do I regard it as something that is actually going to happen, or an event in the past only held in a memorial? That is a difficult question. And a related question is really if I want it to happen. Do I really want to be a preacher like Saint Peter and Paul, being persecuted, flogged, scorched, stoned and eventually killed for my witness to the Good News? It is something to think about I think...

In the difference between reflecting on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as a past event, and the desire to receive the grace to go out and make disciples of all the nations lies a fundamental difference. The one can maybe be said to focus on me, and my direct surroundings, and can maybe be seen to be more inward. The second however is concerned with the outgoing to the outside, to spread out. It strikes me that the commandment to “go and make disciples of all the nations” is something that needs to be taken serious, and has to be taken literary. We need to go out and make disciples. We need to go out and tell people about Jesus. We need to go out and share the joy we ourselves discover when we try and live an authentic Christian life in communion with God!

It is very easy to become inward looking, to focus on what our own direct surroundings or our own community in the Church. I dare to say that the fact that a lot of ‘ministry’ is only seen as being related to the liturgical celebrations is one of the effects of this. But instead of looking inwardly, we are called to look outward, to go out and to share. It is not about gathering up what we have and create our own comfortable place in the world, but in stead a calling to go out and gather those who are not part yet of the fold.

The joy which it is to know Jesus is something which should set out heart on fire. It puts our heart on fire to share with others who might not have experience this as yet, be in near to us, or farther afield. This time between ascension and Pentecost is maybe a time to pray especially for the grace to be able to stand up for our faith, and to have the courage as the apostles did after their Pentecost!

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