Part one of a reflection for the Solemnity of Pentecost. The readings are Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 103; Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 and John 20: 19-23.
Tomorrow we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and in the readings we have two completely different versions of the same event. In the book of Acts, Luke describes the event that we’re all familiar with: The hurricane-like winds, the flames of fire and the disciples speaking in tongues. John’s version is a bit different, but for me, much more compelling.
This is the scene: The apostles are terrified. They feel confused, disheartened, abandoned, let down... Everything that they were working towards has been a failure; all their hopes are shattered. That man whom they followed, who they thought was the Son of God, the Messiah, the one who was going to liberate Israel from Roman occupation was arrested, tortured and killed. And what’s likely is that the next to be arrested and killed are that man’s followers. So the apostles are behind locked doors, hiding, full of fear... and, who appears in the midst of them? Jesus. And what does He tell them? “Peace.” Jesus gives them peace, “have peace.” “Do not be afraid.”
Do not be afraid – that’s the phrase that appears most often in Scripture. It’s there about 350 times: Don’t be afraid, do not fear, do not be frightened... and many of us remember the words of St. John Paul II during his first homily as pope in October 1978: "Non abbiate paura!”
Do not be afraid. That’s the good news of Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit is the spirit that takes away our fear and fills us with peace. If today you feel alone, or if you are worried; don’t be afraid, peace. If you have problems at home, in your marriage, with your husband or your wife; don’t be afraid, peace. If you have problems at work, with your boss or a co-worker; don’t be afraid, peace. If you have problems with your kids, you don’t understand them or they don’t speak to you; don’t be afraid, peace. If you have problems with your parents, they don’t listen to you or don’t understand you; don’t be afraid, peace. If you have problems at school with a classmate or with a teacher; don’t be afraid, peace. If you have problems with your ageing parents, or are struggling with a chronic illness or you just received a cancer diagnosis; don’t be afraid, peace. If you are far from home, if you have money problems, you’ve lost your job... don’t be afraid, peace. Peace.
It’s easy to think that Christ gives us peace. It’s easy to accept that the Holy Spirit gives us peace, but sometimes that doesn’t help because we still struggle and we still have problems. The problem is that sometimes we don’t feel peace. If you struggle with making that connection, come back tomorrow and read
how it happened for me.