This Sunday we are celebrating the Feast of Pentecost. A feast that, together with Easter, we inherited from our Jewish brothers. For them it was a double celebration; on the one hand it marked the wheat harvest and on the other the gift of the Law (Torah) at mount Sinai. It was on that feast that the small community of disciples gathered in the Cenacle received the Holy Spirit. But we must not understand this feast as a mere celebration of a past event. Some people refer to Pentecost as the “Birthday of the Church”, which, of course, is not wrong, but it does not make justice to the importance of this feast. If we limit the feast of Pentecost to a birthday party, we run the risk of stripping it of its power to speak to us in our current situation.
In fact, I think this feast comes at a very providential moment to offer the Church many answers to our many questions and uncertainties. We are not the only ones who have spent quite some time locked at home. The first disciples of Jesus too were locked down in fear. Surely, they were convinced that God would intervene. After all, Jesus himself before his ascension told them to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of another Paraclete, and so they did. But, what could God do to make things be like they were before, when they first met Jesus, when they could spend the days on the road witnessing so many miracles and wonders? The answer is, that they were not to go back to how things were before. They too were going to make a new beginning. For them too there was a new normality ahead. But this new beginning came accompanied with the most reassuring gift of all: the outpouring of a New Spirit. A Spirit, that removed all their fears and propelled them out, even to the ends of the earth.
So, it does not matter how small, fragile and vulnerable we may feel in front of the uncertainties of the future, because like the first community of Christians, we won’t have to face our new normality on our own. We too have been promised this New Spirit.
Just in case you prefer to hear that from somebody else, listen to how the Prophet Haggai encouraged the Israelites when they came back from Exile to their new normality: “Courage, all you people of the country! – The Lord declares. To work! I am with you – says the Lord – and my spirit is present among you. Do not be afraid!”
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña