With more and more people wearing face masks to protect themselves and others from the Corona Virus, social interactions aren’t as pretty as when our faces were naked. In fact communication is much more difficult. Facial expression is a universal language. Without seeing someone smile or frown, it’s hard to know whether something we’ve said leaves a person happy, sad, mad or downright confused. Our ability to communicate via countenance is a divine inheritance. It’s the basis of The Priestly Blessing God gave Moses to share with Israel’s spiritual leaders so they could make it go viral (NUMBERS 6: 22-26):
The LORD said to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
Today, peace is a rare commodity. Understanding the spirit behind someone’s facial muscles can give us the peace God spread through both Moses and Jesus. On this feast of Pentecost, we celebrate the peace that comes from the universal language of the Holy Spirit. Although Sunday’s first reading from Acts (Acts 2:1-11) describes that communication succeeding via the gift of tongues, it’s apparent that God was again dispersing his smiling countenance via the priestly blessing of Christ’s disciples. We see it in the reaction of the international audience—given a universal voice in this reading—that our Father’s actions speak louder than words.
We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.”
And as Paul tells the Corinthians in Sunday’s second reading (1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13), God’s acts—through our actions—also speak volumes.
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.
That benefit is peace, and as Sunday’s gospel reading shows (Jn 20:19-23), the newly-risen Jesus didn’t have to say much to impart it to his disciples. His body language said it all.
Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. 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.”
You is us. That’s ugly phraseology, but it speaks a beautiful truth. Let the world see God’s spirit in your countenance.