Scripture Readings: Acts 2-11; l Cor. 12:3b-7, 12-13; Jn. 20:19-23. 

In our opening prayer, we asked God to pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth.  It is an invocation, a call for the very gift that makes the Church what it is.  It is the voice of the ecclesia:  those who are called and those who call upon God.  We often get a little too “substantialist” in our understanding and forget the creative space that is left between the call and the hearing.  The Church prays out of its deep memory and anamensis.  The roots of her being are created and formed by her history and memory of the saving acts of Christ.  Her own history is inconceivable without the living penetration and contact with the Spirit of Christ.  She reads and understands history not as an accumulation and succession of events, but as an unfolding of the plan of God guided by His Spirit.  Through the Spirit, she sees Christ and rejoices.  The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  The presence of the Spirit gives her a deep personal and connatural knowledge to recognize him when he appears.  The Church turns her face to God when she invokes that gift of life which can make all things new.  The Spirit is the author of life who breathes where He will.

In our prayer, the Church also turns her face to the earth.  And the world has a face:  pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth.  An initial understanding might see this as indicating the breadth, universality, and unity of the earth as a whole.  This is the common home we all share, the dwelling place of the Spirit who has filled the whole world. The earth is the locus of the Spirit.  The earth is the common home of all living things and the matrix of human life.

But if the earth has a face, it means that its inner life comes to expression through the face it turns toward us.  What we see in creation is an epiphany of its interdependence and desire for that peace which is the harmonious interaction of all diverse forms in the biosphere.  That is the face of creation:  the expression of the creative spirit of God in supporting, giving, and sharing life.  Our face is the primary medium for manifesting our inner life, our loves, our cares, our willingness to engage in communication.  Our face is the home or locus for expressing our intentions and our sensibility.  We turn our faces towards those who are important to us.  We turn them away from those who do not count.

It is obvious that the earth has many faces.  It is difficult to look at the faces of violence and protest that seem to cover the earth today.  Inequality has bred injustice.  Powerlessness and apathy have bred violence.  The colored, the indigenous, and the poor are ripe victims for Covid-19 in what functions as a practical genocide.  The environment is suffering from what can seem to be mortal wounds.  The soulless indifference to the lives of others (“we all have to die sometime”) is a prevalent virus eroding any common bonds of decency and respect.

And yet the Church prays pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth.  The Church (we) cannot be merely a bystander, hoping for a massive inundation to drown all our ills.  There appeared to them tongues as of fire which parted and came to rest on each one of them.  The one Spirit manifests himself to each individual.  Different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.  Each of us has been given a gift, a share in this one Spirit.  What have we been given, sent to do and be?  What is the source of our wholeness, our integrity, our holiness?  Rather, who is this source?  What form do our beliefs and convictions take in the face of our earth today?

Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.  The gift of the Spirit has made our lives a locus, a place where peace and forgiveness can transform the earth.  We are called to be instruments and messengers of the peace, forgiveness, communion and harmony which are the one Spirit.  This call enflames that love which waits to come to life in our hearts.  It is the breath of the Lord who comes face to face with us.