1) Acts 2:1-11
Psalm 104: 1, 24, 29-31, 34
2) 1 Cor 12:3-7, 12-13
Gospel: Jn 20:19-23
If anyone were to ask whether there is a picture that captures what the church is all about, the answer is yes, there is. Look at Pentecost.
Our first reading begins the sketch. The Holy Spirit comes to Jesus’ disciples in a dramatic way. A curious crowd gathers. The disciples declare the “mighty acts of God” — what God has done through his son, Jesus Christ — in a way that, miraculously, is understood by everyone in the crowd of international visitors.
As the account continues (beyond our liturgical reading), Peter talks about Jesus’ death and resurrection. His words strike the onlookers to the heart. Thousands are baptized into life in Christ and the community of his followers.
There you have it: the church in a single scene.
Wouldn’t we like the church today to be like that — making Jesus known in a way that connects with people and changes their lives?
It can happen. The Holy Spirit given to the community of Jesus’ disciples on Pentecost was never withdrawn. The Spirit is with us.
If we were looking for a picture of the action of the Holy Spirit, that would also be Pentecost. One thing that Pentecost displays is the unexpectedness of the Spirit’s action. The onlookers were astonished — and surely no less than the disciples themselves.
The Spirit has his own ways of working, his own moments, his humanly unforeseeable initiatives.
At times we may pose the question, How can we get the Spirit to come and fill our Christian projects with his power? But perhaps that is not the right question. A better question is: What is the Spirit indicating about how he wishes to act and how he wants us cooperate with him?
This raises questions about ourselves. Are we open to the Spirit who surprises? Are we willing to work with the Spirit’s surprises? Challenging questions! The Spirit’s plans may seem too great or too small to us, involving efforts or relinquishments we would rather avoid.
Father Robert Bedard, the founder of the Companions of the Cross, a community of priests in Canada and the U.S., once told me that he wanted that community to always be like a runway with the landing lights lit, ready for the Spirit to land whenever he wished.
The question for me to ask myself is, Am I keeping my own landing lights switched on?
Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.