Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34
1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13
So as to be more available to receive the graces of these readings, imagine that you are sitting in a large group of believers, but who are from various countries. Suddenly everybody in the room seems to be talking your language. You stand up, figuring everybody has decided to speak your tongue so you start telling of the wonders of God and of the resurrected Jesus. You look around and all are moved deeply and appreciate all you are saying. There is a new closeness among the gathering even though everybody has returned to their native usage. No need for a translator though, all seem to understand each other. When the speaking is about Jesus, all hear the words of each other clearly.
We pray for our making Jesus LARGER AND MORE VISIBLE IN THIS SHRINKING WORLD. We pray that all Christians become more the church based on the excitement and preaching of the early apostles. We pray that the Spirit of the One God will mend Christ's fractured body and that all who speak various languages will one day understand each other more compassionately. We need an inflation, an expanding economy of God's Spirit and a more personal investment with high interest and great returns, that our world will be God's kingdom.
Fifty days have past since the Jews, now gathered together for the second great feast of the year, had celebrated the first feast which is the Passover or Feast of the Unleavened Bread. The last of these will be a final harvest thanksgiving. Fifty days for the spring wheat and grains to have ripened and now are presented before the Lord. All the farmers of this agricultural community acknowledge their radical dependence upon God's care in sending rain and sun. Luke pictures the raining down of God's Spirit within the context of this Jewish festival. They are gathered to send up their prayers for all that has grown; God sends the Spirit of growth so that there will be even more produce, but of a new kind. The newness is that while the sun and rain bring forth fruit of the fields, the Holy Spirit will bring forth a completion of creation as the ultimate expression of God's love. The people are gathered to praise and thank God. Luke will picture the Spirit moving them out and beyond the territory of the Jews so as to bless and bring about the final harvest of God's peace and justice. They all speak different languages, which is a consequence of the Tower of Babble. They will continue speaking their various languages, but the message is to go out from them to all the world.
In today's Gospel, we hear John's account of Jesus' sending, or "breathing" the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. As in Luke's account in Acts, there is a gathering. John's version has the group hiding for fear, but both, upon reception of the Spirit, are blest and then "sent." Jesus' breathing the Spirit echoes Genesis' description of the creating God breathing form out of the abyss of nothingness. For John, the process of creation is to extend God's peace to the now "deformed" world.
The Holy Spirit comes constantly from the ever-loving Trinity. We are not praying in such a way that maybe God will breathe again upon our creation. We celebrate that we might be open to the Spirit's work of giving Christ new dimensions, new visibility and new gestures of revelation within us as individuals and us as God's people.
We use an expression for those who think too highly of themselves. "That person has an inflated self-image." What that means literally is that he/she is full of 'air', coming from the Latin word for wind, 'flatus.' We might say, 'hot air.' Deflation means the air has 'run out.' What the early Apostles heard sounded like a strong wind and Jesus breathed air upon the hiding eleven. The Spirit was not in-flating, but in-carnating.
Pentecost is a celebration of the fruitfulness of the land, blest by the sun and rain and 'breath' of God. In the Christian community, we celebrate how the Spirit, 'wind' of God has 'in-spirited' human hearts to live 'highly' of themselves. The work of the Spirit is that all creation, and that includes human beings, radiate, in-flesh Jesus. As the Spirit came upon Mary whose womanhood gave him flesh, so that same Spirit hovers over our bodies that Jesus might take new flesh. We think highly of ourselves all right, but not full of air, but Spirit, not totally Jesus yet, but the Spirit is not done with us.
Recently there was a news item about, of all things, an inflatable church. It sounded crazy, but interesting, and anything is possible. FYI I looked up on the Internet and here is the address in case you want to buy or rent one - www.inflatablechurch.com
I am not kidding. This is not exactly the kind of church to which Pentecost is calling us.
The early Apostles, 'air-borne' in a sense, flew outward from hiding into humanity, from amorphous shame into figures of faith. No balloons or blimps are we. This day we re-up for loving the flesh-bound 'bone house' that gives Jesus attractiveness to all whom he meets through us. As he went about blest by the Spirit at his anointing, so we do not float, but walk, run, limp, wheelchair, crawl, or sit, and give his light our personal refraction. The Church, as were the first Apostles, is not full of itself, but longs to be freed to inspire God's good earth to bring forth fruits of holiness not hollowness, substance not emptiness.
"They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke of the great things that God had done, alleluia." Acts 2, 4
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