Pentecost Sunday Reflection
The wind blows where it wishes. You hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (John3:8)
In the evening of that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because of their fear of the Jews. Then Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” Having said this, He showed them His hands and His side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” After saying this, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:19-23)
Like quantum entanglement, now we see it here, then over there, now a whispering breeze in the darkness, then in a great crescendo of the orchestra; a quick glimpse here, then through the darkness of unknowing and we are gifted with those great ‘aha’ moments.
These moments may be as fleeting as mist in the morning sun, yet always the melody remains:
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
The Way It Is… William Stafford (1914–1993)
This is the creative nature of the Spirit of Pentecost, ever-unfolding creation into liminal reality, creating new horizons and possibilities beyond all our imaginings. We are part of the three great epochs marked in Sacred Scripture that are heralded by God’s Holy Spirit at work within creation.
- At the genesis of the history of creation, God breaths the Word that becomes the matrix and blueprint for all Being; bringing order and light to the primordial chaos.
- At the genesis of the mystery of consciousness of our human species, God breathes that same Spirit into our ancestors, generating that self-awareness and autonomy out of which flows the possibility of Love, imaging God’s very own universal Triune essence.
- At the genesis of the assembly of the church, God’s Spirit is once more breathed on the apostles and the disciples initiating the supernatural spiritual consciousness out of which an experience of God, who is Spirit, becomes possible.
It is this awakening of God’s Spirit within us that frees us of fear, heals our woundedness, resonates with the transcendent and animates that relationship that teaches us Truth, Jesus the Christ within God, and God within us and within all of creation. This is the Spirit of Truth that guides our lives, leads us to worship, and brings us joy.
As my life becomes more and more centred on this relationship with the Spirit of Truth, I am brought to a profoundly attentive awareness of the one Source of unconditional Love and Light.
It is this awareness that exposes any selfish egocentric distractions, violence, hypocrisy, guilt, arbitrary power, and that fear of loss that manifests itself as clinging, grasping acquisitiveness.
As soon as I recognise my own wounds reflected against God’s Love and Light, I am led to repentance. It is in the joy of God’s goodness that I weep at this great sorrow I have encountered on my journey.
God offers us the grace to “weep” over our sins, to humbly recognise our total reliance on this grace rather than any meeting of God halfway. “It is a kind of weeping and a kind of wandering that keeps us both “askew and awake.”
This acknowledgment of how these sins have affected our relationships, bonding myself in chains as I bind others also to their past mistakes. Each one of us in union as both victim and perpetrator in every sorrowful sin and every joyful redemption; the ongoing drama of creation-redemption.
This is our unitive experience of all the sorrows and all the joy of creation; myself as the ocean and waves, with the beach the sand, with the fish the birds, and most importantly with that terrible, sticky black oil that destroys life and beauty.
Jesus the resurrected Christ tells all of his followers that through the Holy Spirit we are enabled to bear witness and to set each other free in the joint proclamation of the forgiveness of sins, the unbinding all bonds.
This Hamartia, this missing the mark, this sin, is secondary to any particular moral code. This sin to which the blessed apostle John refers is an ontological inability to see and respond to that which is real.
Without this awakening of Spiritual consciousness, we remain blind, unable, and unwilling to hold the truth of God’s manifestation and action in the cosmos. This blindness leads us to retain those bonds, those sins that stunt our growth, and perpetuate a circle of woundedness that not only robs us of life and joy but also transmits its disease to all other creation and even to our mother Earth.
These wounds that corrupt our actions are as much within our corporate institutions as they are within us, the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm.
God’s Holy Spirit is leading more and more people today to recognise our connectedness, together with all creation, to that one source.
This is our hope for the future as we come to experience this mystical awakening of connectedness that recognises the gift that each one of us is to the other, recognises our dignity, the dignity of others, and the dignity of creation.
It is this mystical awakening that creates that sacred space within which our diversity can be appreciated so that the values of equity, justice, peace, and reconciliation are becoming a reality beyond our imposed stratifications.
This ongoing Pentecost allows us to recognise that there is within ourselves both good and bad, light and dark, self-centeredness, and great generosity as well as violence and peace.
This recognition comes with an understanding of the necessity to stand in humility before the other with the eye of compassion. This is a stance that seeks neither to hide, to judge, to predict, or to manipulate.
Only within this humble and compassionate stance is the possibility to understand each other beyond judgement, culture, language, and all our other defined boundaries. Only love can truly speak to the heart.
“The heart of humanity can be full of so much pain, even when things are exteriorly all right. It becomes all the more difficult because today we are used to thinking that there are explanations for everything. But there is no explanation of most of what goes on in our own hearts, and we cannot account for it all. No use resorting to the kind of mental tranquillizers that even religious explanations sometimes offer. Faith must be deeper than that, rooted in the unknown and in the abyss of darkness that is the ground of our being. No use teasing the darkness to try to make answers grow out of it. But if we learn how to have deep inner patience, things solve themselves, or God solves them if you prefer: but do not expect to see how. Just learn to wait, and do what you can and help other people. Often it is in helping someone else we find the best way to bear our own trouble.” — Thomas Merton from his Christmas letter, 1966.
The Spirit of Truth
It is the Spirit of Truth that leads us to forgive even the unforgivable and to heal our deepest wounds and divisions. It is the same Spirit of Truth that now leads us towards lives lived simply in service of others without the great triumphalist slogans and banners that separate us from those others and dull our senses to reality.
Those others, brothers and sisters are also made in the same image of God and share with me the same experiences of pain and the same experiences joy. This brings us to accept that it is not in “fixing” situations or in “helping” the other in some processes of reconciliation that healing takes place.
When Jesus bent down to wash the feet of his disciples, he showed us that service in a relationship between equals draws us into that Love relationship that will heal us as well as others.