(For the audio version of this blog, please visit: http://brothersinchristcmf.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Mass-Blog-for-Pentecost-Sunday-2023-1.mp3)
“Resurrection” is another word for change, particularly positive change—which too often we tend to recognize only in the long run, once we look back at the lives we’ve lived. In the short runs of our lives, known as journeys, we savor many joys and endure many hardships while we’re constantly reminded that our journey’s end is nearing.
The changes we endure on our journeys happen after taking some hits we didn’t see coming. Good and bad days are unpredictable. Like Pentecost, their appearance is never set on a particular calendar date, so like life, they can take us by surprise. Surprises can be worth celebrating.
What are we celebrating on Pentecost? We’re celebrating the surprise the Holy Spirit springs on pilgrims from all walks of life who hear Christ’s apostles speaking their language, as related in Sunday’s first reading (Acts 2:1-11).
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them … speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God?”
How? The same way that same Holy Spirit speaks our language to this day. Global travel has filled our world with pilgrims, each on a different journey but called to a single purpose: Love—love of God via love of each other. That love is manifested in different ways, as Paul tells the Corinthians in Sunday’s second reading (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13):
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
Such diverse spiritual manifestations among our modern world’s pilgrims were beautifully depicted in a recent film that had a limited run in theaters. “The Journey” mixes footage from various concerts Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performed during a series of sojourns he took on horseback between cities along the Via Francigena–an ancient walking trail for pilgrims traveling to Rome.
Like life, this was a journey of both discovery and resurrection for this singer. Watching it, we are reminded that our own journeys are not just about a destination. The fact this blind singer took his journey on horseback was symbolic of the risks we all take on our own trips through life. He admitted he was a bit scared at points–feeling the power of the animal beneath him and knowing it could get spooked and take off with him at any moment.
So life is a journey of surprises that requires courage and the faith to be open to encountering God’s Holy Spirit along the way.
Bocelli brought young singers on this journey of amazing grace with him to experience how his own life’s journey changed him and to inspire them in their own career journeys of faith.
The point is, God is using us to build a spiritual home suitable for His residence within us—constructed from the world’s diverse raw materials. That building is done during our life’s journey, along which we travel paths to excavate those raw materials deemed suitable for the job—just as Jesus did.
Remember when he saw people turning his Father’s temple into a marketplace? He angrily cast them out. His holy and passionate spirit made an impression on his disciples, who later recalled the words of scripture: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” When challenged about what gave him the right to impose his manifestation of the spirit on them, Jesus answered:
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (Jn 2:19)
John tells us Jesus was referring to his own body, and after he rose from the dead, his Spirit helped the disciples realize this and thus dedicate their own lives in the same spirit of zeal. Sunday’s gospel reading continues many chapters later into John’s account (Jn 20:19-23):
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
Like theirs, ours is a journey we travel blindly, directed only by faith and fate. What we’ll have built by the end of our sojourn is a shelter of spiritual grace—and it will be amazing to all who seek its comforts.