All fruitful relationships begin within mystery and continue there even though there are continued gestures of self-revelation.
It is an affirming compliment for you to say to a spouse, community member or close friend that you cannot figure them out, they are a mystery. When we figure something out, like a Rubik’s Cube, we put them aside; solving is the beginning of being bored.
People who are in love want to know about their beloved and, thank God, there is always more to know and this forms the foundation for the continuing of the love relationship. If we know all there is to know about an object like a watch or even a computer, then we can more easily control the object. Persons are not objects and are not to be controlled.
The perfect love relationship is that between God, the Lover, and ourselves as the beloved. Both of us, God and we, are mysteries even though God, the Divine Initiator, has been in the process of revealing for millennia. We have spent years revealing ourselves to others and to ourselves and yet we do humbly admit that we cannot figure out our mysterious selves either.
We would love to figure God out and not to really love God, but rather know how to work God as an object to be controlled. We are not objects for God to control either, but we, both together, are in this relationship called life.
There is quite a bit of serious sitting around in the First Reading and Gospel for today’s celebration of Pentecost. We hear of the gathering in Jerusalem for the feast of Weeks or the celebration of the first cuttings of the grain harvest. It was the second of the three major feasts in the religious tradition of Israel. The first was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, or Passover. The third was the Feast of Tents or Booths, celebrating the harvestings of grapes and olives.
Pentecost is actually the Greek name for “fifty days” or seven weeks, hence the name of the feast has been called the “Feast of Weeks.” It was a communal celebration of God’s abundant fidelity to the Jews in the giving of the land and its fertility. They were gathered to give thanks and have a share in the crops.
What we hear from the Acts of the Apostles is the account of the same fidelity of God to bring about a new crop and a new sense of the whole earth’s being a blessing place.
With the coming of the Holy Spirit there was to be no more serious sitting around. There was a kind of interior fire lit which had to be spread. People from various distant regions came, heard and were invited to listen and then return with that fire and that Spirit.
For the Jewish believers Pentecost was a harvest celebration. For the Christian community it is the celebration of God’s planting the Holy Spirit to bring about a harvest of planters. The more difficult aspect of our Pentecost is that there is no more serious sitting around. The Gospel of John presents a different picture of Jesus’ sending the Spirit and the results are the same. Instead of serious sitting, there is an even more serious sending. Paul writes it in our Second Reading more specifically. There is One Spirit which is to be made visible or manifested in different “works” and this Spirit is to produce “all of them in everyone.”
When God came looking for Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis, they were hiding, because they had denied who they were and lusted to be like God. When Jesus comes, in today’s Gospel, looking for His disciples who had denied who they were, He finds them hiding as well. It is Resurrection time and Jesus greets them with “peace” twice and then does two quite amazing things. He passes on to them the very mission He had received. Then He breathes upon them and offers them the same breath or Spirit that brought about order from the chaos as recounted in the same book of Genesis. He is telling them that as He was sent into the world to bring order into the lives of all, so they were as well, the incarnations of the Spirit who themselves are sent to bring order out of chaos. Whose chaos you order there will be order and those who retain their chaos as a way of living, their chaos is retained.
The visited-disciples were in personal and collective disorder. They had run away from the Light, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus came, not with condemnation, nor to convict them, but convince them that their lives were blest and could be a blessing if they allowed the Spirit to breathe within them and through them.
In the creation narrative of Genesis the creating God, Who was breathing a spirit of order, was quoted as saying such things as, “let there be light”, and “let there be life”. Jesus is the incarnation of that same on-going love. He breathes the same Spirit upon the disciples to get up and get out into the light and bring about new life.
We all enjoy a pat on the back and little encouraging words. Jesus is giving His early Church more than a pat, but a boot in the backside. The same Spirit is doing the same kicking to the same area of our Church and our individual selves. No more serious sitting around and worrying or wondering who we are and what we are to do. Jesus did not give them any further instruction except to “Go”. Where shall we go? Where is the chaos? Where do others not want to go? Where are we likely to bring light and life? Where is the darkness and death in our families, communities, and cultures?
This is not exactly a comforting feast. This celebration has serious, going out, implications. The Spirit is not a warm and fuzzy consoler like a fluffy blanket. It says to each of us, “Take your life as seriously as I do!” Hiding is not allowed any more! Show up and show off.
“They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke of the great things God had done, Alleluia.” Acts 2, 4
(for scriptural references for the Jewish feast of Pentecost)
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