As I think about this weekend’s Solemnity which closes and culminates the Easter Season, I try to imagine what the outpouring of Holy Spirit must have been like for those who experienced it as it’s described in Scripture – whether it’s the Risen Jesus appearing in the locked Upper Room and breathing the Spirit and peace on his disciples, or the rushing wind and tongues of flame described in the Acts of the Apostles, or the sudden ability of Jesus’ disciples to speak and be understood in a multitude of languages. All of those stories seem both thrilling and remote.
If there was ever a time where we needed an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church isn’t now that time? I write this overshadowed by our collective sadness over yet another mass shooting – this time, at an elementary school. How can we joyfully celebrate Pentecost in light of such violence as that, or the war in Ukraine, or any of countless other occasions of violence, hunger, trauma, and grief?
While we may not have experienced it in such a dramatic way as the apostles did, or as the early church did, nevertheless our faith tells us that at our baptism we were given the Holy Spirit – none other than the One who inspired such courage, such wisdom, and such love in the apostles so many years ago. None other than the Spirit that built the church to which we belong today and whose truth we profess.
Often when we celebrate Confirmation, Fr. Patrick tells the newly confirmed (and all of us) that the grace of that sacrament is one that is quietly there for us to draw on when needed – when we need the courage to do the right thing. To stand against bullying and violence. To love the not very lovable, and not very attractive. To care for all of creation. To find the outcasts and bring them back in.
We may feel powerless to change our world, our politics, maybe even ourselves. But we can draw upon the Gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us in baptism and confirmation to be God’s love right where we are, to (as a song in the ’70s said, probably meaning something quite different) “love the one we’re with.” It might not change the world, but, then again, it might. St. Teresa of Calcutta said we are called not to success but to faithfulness. Plant the seed, tend the garden, leave the harvest to God. Here is a list of the gifts given to all of us for the good of all:
Wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and piety.
Let’s support one another in drawing upon the inexhaustible supply of grace given to us by the Holy Spirit.