Acts 2:1-11; I Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 20: 19-23.
Imagine that we wanted to begin a business or start a non-profit or a social club. What would we do to realize this dream? Most likely, being practical minded Americans, we would draft a plan which lists ideas, possibilities, contacts and goals. Planning and efficiency would be seen as essential and that makes perfect sense.
Now read the beginning of the Church as recounted in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles. There was a fearful fretting group of Jewish followers of Jesus from all over the known-world; as we know fear does not birth healthy dreams or plans. Neither was there a clear goal, plan or ideas. The birth of the Church was not a product of efficiency or human planning but trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. How odd!
But this trust led not to strategies but to the Spirit taking this group of fearful strangers and binding them together not only through a gift of tongues (a reversal of the Tower of Babel story!) but more importantly through faith in the Risen Lord. The Church, composed of fragile and flawed humans (both as leaders and laity), is not a human product but a creation of the Holy Spirit. An important point and one which may be hard for us to see as a result of scandals in the Church, clerical sex abuse of minors in the 1970s/ 1980s and high rates of divorce by the laity. As Catholics what links us as a People are not pretty liturgies, nor preaching from great priests nor active lay ministries (though each of these is important) but our faith in Christ, grounded on how we have been touched by Him in our daily life. This is what we celebrate today at Pentecost- the communion of Church as one gathering in our world where people are not brought together for money, entertainment or social identity but for love and conversion.
Church with all its scars is a gift to us- allowing us to stay focused on what matters in life, love, Christ and our need to move deeper into Love.
Mission Doctors bring healing and show that Church is not just a pious gathering of people but also called to go out, as Jesus did, to heal, confront evil and love. Help the Mission Doctors through prayer and donations as they show with their lives our common call as Church to mission.
Brother John Kiesler, OFM