Today, we observe Memorial Day in the United States, a day to honor
those who have died while serving their country. In my family, as
a child, it was also a day to visit the graves of loved ones, recalling
their presence in our lives and sharing stories about those who
are no longer with us . As we children placed flowers on the graves,
my parents would share memories of my grandparents and great-grandparents,
which helped us to know our family history a little more. However,
as an adult, I realize that there is so much more that I still want
to know and understand about my grandparents and great-grandparents.
Today’s first reading is a glimpse into the ‘telling’
of the story of Jesus in the early Church.
In Acts, Apollo had shared the stories of Jesus with the people
of Ephesus. Later, however, when Paul arrives in town, he discovers
that the people have received the baptism of John, but have no understanding
of the Holy Spirit. As the people are then baptized in the name
of Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit, they begin to speak in tongues
and begin to prophesy.
Though Apollo was effective in bringing the story of Jesus to others,
he himself was in need of a clearer understanding of what it meant
to become a follower of Christ.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus attempts to help the disciples understand
what is to come after Jesus goes to God. At one point, the disciples
declare, “At last, you’re speaking plainly and not
using metaphors! We’re convinced that you know everything…
We do indeed believe you came from God.” And Jesus responds,
“Do you really believe?...”
How confusing this must have been for the disciples. They want to
understand who Jesus is and what he is trying to tell them. Yet,
it is only much later, after Jesus’ death and resurrection,
and they receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that the followers
really begin to have a grasp of what Jesus as God present among
us really meant.
As Christians, it may be easy to fall in the rut of thinking that
we understand what Jesus’ presence among us is all about…that
we really ‘get it’. But do we?
True…we can repeat the doctrines that we profess in our creed,
but what do those beliefs really mean in our everyday life? As adults
on our faith journey, we are asked to make real what we believe…to
live our faith. If I am to make real God’s presence in my
life, I need to continually invite God into my life and reflect
on how to make my Christian beliefs come to life in my everyday
world. (I have found Joan Chittister’s book, In Search
of Belief, a great help in reflecting on my beliefs.)
As the feast of Pentecost approaches, my prayer is that we each
make time to invite the God Spirit of Wisdom into our lives, so
that we can truly be open to ‘getting it’ a little more
in order to make God real in our living out of what Jesus has taught
us in his life on earth.