This week we acknowledge Pentecost Sunday, our oldest Feast day and what is often referred to as as the birthday of the Church. Unlike most birthdays, the mood was far from one of celebration. On that day the disciples hid scared, behind locked doors. Given that they had just seen the Lord crucified, they can hardly be blamed for thinking they could be the next victims.
What occurred next was the moment we call Pentecost. The moment the risen Christ, pierced hands and all, appeared among them, breathed on them and allowed them to receive the Holy Spirit. It was from this encounter that the story and the journey of the Church as we know it today was born.
As believers, reflecting on this first experience of Pentecost provides us all with an opportunity to reflect on our own encounters with the Holy Spirit.
In a pre-pandemic world, I was fortunate to join over 1 million young (and some not so young) Catholics in Panama for World Youth Day. It was during this pilgrimage that I was moved in such a way, as I celebrated Mass with Pope Francis, that I had never been more certain of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Upon my return from WYD the same feeling kept coming over me in my vocation as a teacher, particularly during liturgies and masses led by the students. I soon realised that I did not need to be in the presence of a Pope or a large congregation of people to encounter the Spirit. Rather, if I was a willing witness, I would be able to inhale God’s exhale, just like the disciples did on that day.
As we continue to negotiated the uncharted waters of a world in the midst of a pandemic, let us find time to stop, breathe and inhale. United in our faith in the risen Lord, and powered by the Holy Spirit ourselves, let us together celebrate the birthday of the Church.
Peace be with you.