Dear Sisters and Brothers of Saint Therese Parish,
Today we celebrate the tender yet powerful Feast of Pentecost. This day is often called the “birth-day of the Church”. The Spirit descends on an as yet small community, still raw and fearful following the Crucifixion of Jesus, still in mourning, still carrying the shame of abandoning Jesus, incredulous at His ascension, hoping He will be coming back in their lifetimes, wondering what the future will hold. The Spirit hovers and “breathes” over them, the very same word used in the Scriptures when the Spirit “breathed” new life over the waters at the time of Creation. New life, a new breath, re-creation. And it will all take place in community, when we gather, even when we are raw and afraid -maybe es-pecially so. It is a time when we are most open to healing and newness.
I have conversed with friends, co-workers and brother priests about what the post pan-demic “re-gathering” of the Church will be like. Will it be a “new Pentecost”, a re-birth-ing of sorts? No one really knows anymore than the first disciples huddled in the Upper Room knew so many years ago. All we really have is what those first disciples had -the promise that the Spirit would come and show us the way forward. The original Greek of the Gospel translates more that the Spirit will “nudge”, probably presuming that the first followers will resist any movement to newness over which they are not in control. I imag-ine it will be the same for us.
The Pentecost Spirit is often symbolized by fire and wind. The Holy Spirit of Love both warms and blows away, often in gentle whispers to our hearts. Will this pandemic some-how bring us to renewal as we re-gather? We may wonder who will come back. In my own heart as a pastor, I don’t worry about this. We need instead to listen and discern the movement of the Spirit in the community who does re-gather. My hope is that our faith commitment has somehow been strengthened by absence, by the fears and uncertainty we shared together in this world wide pandemic of shared suffering. Some of us will un-doubtedly want to return only to what we knew. My guess is that there will also be a Spir-it-infused “nudge” within our faith community here toward a deeper spirituality and mis-sionary outreach to those searching for a “home” and a God to trust in. Let’s be open to it.
Father Bob, C. P.