Everyone knows that the spiritual focus of Christmas celebrates our greatest gift, the coming of Jesus among us. If we were to promote a second gift-giving season, Pentecost would be the ideal time. This celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit could be labeled our second Christmas. Pentecost is the “spiritual echo” of Bethlehem, as God comes again not as one of us, but as one within all of us. At Pentecost it is God who brings gifts. The prophet Isaiah listed seven of them: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, courage, reverence and awe. These gifts were given to sustain the Church until Jesus comes again at the end of time.
These gifts in turn impact our lives allowing us to become people who are loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, generous, faithful, gentle and self-controlled. We should carefully develop these gifts, committing them to memory, and putting them into practice. As a reminder, tape them on refrigerators, and on bathroom mirrors to guide our everyday coming and going. With this effort, we might better nurture communities of wisdom and courage where joy and kindness rule, and then our world would be forever changed.
May we become as eager to receive these gifts as we are excited with the UPS packages and Santa’s deliveries made at Christmas! May we also be aware of the efforts of the spiritual leaders who apply these gifts to the challenges of our time. One such theologian, Henri Nouwen, said of Pentecost: “The wind and fire of Pentecost lift the whole mystery of salvation out of its particularities and form it into something inclusive of all people, all countries, all seasons, all eras. Once unleashed, the power of the Spirit becomes a perennial experience, and an ever-available, renewal resource for the church.” And it was Pope Paul VI, echoing the sentiments expressed by Pope Saint John XXIII, who declared that “the Church needs a perpetual Pentecost.”
Through these gifts given to the church at Pentecost, may we continue to be renewed so that our minds and hearts continue to welcome the presence of the Spirit:
- Spirit of God, gift us to a new awareness that the Church is not only a means of salvation but a mystery and a sacrament.
- Spirit of God, gift us to remember that all of us are called to active participation in the mission of Jesus Christ.
- Spirit of God, gift us to remember that our mission includes providing for our social, political and economic needs, as well as preaching of the Good News and celebrating the sacraments.
- Spirit of God, gift us to recall that the Church is the body of Christ, which includes all people of good will.
- Spirit of God, gift us to remember that all authority in the Church is to be exercised by servant leadership.
- Spirit of God, gift us with your power to inspire, enliven, challenge, empower and humble us. Spirit of God, gift us to enlighten our way that we in turn, may enlighten the way for others.
Help us this Pentecost to open your gifts to strengthen our hearts and our minds to light our days so that the next Pentecost the world may know that your Church more accurately reflects your presence in our lives and in our world.
~ Deacon Wilson Shierk