People respond to fear in two instinctive ways: fight or flight. The disciples chose to flee – hiding in an upper room, waiting for the coast to clear. Of course they were afraid. Their teacher and Lord had been taken from them, and the religious authorities did not like them. Even though Jesus wanted them to go into the world, they didn’t have the slightest idea what they would say and where they would go.
Jesus promised to send them an Advocate who would guide them and reveal the truth to them, but they didn’t know what that would look like. And, into that locked room the Holy Spirit blew, bringing gifts of grace and strength they couldn’t imagine. Were they still afraid? Probably. Did they suddenly know what to do? Probably not. But they knew they could not be silent. Something compelled them to go out, confident that they had a gift to share with the world. What they couldn’t have realized was that the Spirit fell on the world that day as well – allowing those whose hearts were opened to hear the words of life preached by those who at one time didn’t know what to say.
Pentecost is often referred to as the birthday of the Church. The Church remains what it was at the first – imperfect women and men gifted by the Spirit to speak the good news to other imperfect women and men who have been gifted to hear it. As I get older I am more aware of my own imperfections, and I hope that in my ministry you accept them and the fact that I will do my best here in the Ipswich Catholic Community.
The Spirit blows through the world even now – the presence of God, our Advocate, who invites us to proclaim Christ to all and gives us the grace to do so. May God’s Spirit be present in your life, and as you read this, now is the time to give your head a nod – because you know that the Holy Spirit is with you. Enjoy the peace and love of God’s Spirit ….. May we continue to pray for each other!
Fr. Stephen Bliss (ofm)