[Readings: Acts 2:1-11; I Cor. 12:3-7; 12-13; John 20: 19-23]
Today is Pentecost and the Acts of the Apostles tells us about the beginning of the Church. Rather than a heroic and stalwart group making a strategic plan to evangelize the world, we see a group of believers, quaking in fear, worried about the Jewish leaders. The first followers of Jesus met cowering with fear and worried that they would soon share the fate of Jesus. The story does not end there, but with the surprising appearance of the Holy Spirit who transformed this community from one paralyzed with fear into a collection of courageous witnesses of the Risen Lord. A great story and something to celebrate- a fearful community transformed into a bold group of disciples!
Sadly, we live in a very complex time, linked by global ties (what do I mean? Just look at where your clothes were made. Or your car, television, even where your food was grown) which are ever present, invisible and powerful; links which, at times, can enrich everyone’s life but can also lead to what Pope Francis calls “to new and often anonymous kinds of power” (EG 52) which can dominate nations as well as individuals.
This complexity causes confusion and often fear; a fear of many real, imagined and possible threats which the corporate media fans constantly to sell newspapers or increase television viewership. Fear is the common coin of the realm in 21st Century America and, in fact, one sociologist has even described us as having a ‘Culture of Fear’ (Barry Glassner, author of the book Culture of Fear). There are no doubt some things which are anxiety provoking but we all know that fear is, as Jesus said, useless.
Today’s celebration is not only a reminder of the Church’s humble beginnings but also a reminder of the triumph of courage over fear. And this courage comes not from ‘positive thinking’ or ‘planning’ but as a gift from the Holy Spirit. Let us pray for the gift of courage today – to live our faith boldly, to love completely and rejoice in our God of life.
Mission Doctors fight fear by working in dangerous countries in order to serve and heal the poor. Help them financially and through prayer.