Scripture Readings: Acts 2: 1-11; I Cor 12: 3b-7 12-13; Jn 20: 19-23.

On a rainy afternoon when you really have nothing to do, you might pick up that box or album of family photos and pictures you have accumulated over the years.

You see all those faces staring out at you, but none of them is revealing what is behind their expressions.  The photos may be accurate and even high definition, but they don’t say what thoughts, hopes, fears or plans are whirling around in their heads.  What is the connection between the younger face and the older face of the same person?  If we even bother to ask that question, we may finally point to a spirit or soul as the living source of its unity. The simpler and easier view is that we are just successions of events and scenes which play themselves out while we, the agents, cope as best we can.  Looking for a deeper meaning seems to add little or nothing to our ability to manage the reality that confronts us.

The cultural spirit of our times is confident in its dethronement of any “meta-narratives” which would embrace our lives in a larger story which gives them meaning.  The lonely premise is that life is what you make of it and meaning is what you can persuade yourself and others to believe.  Any connections made to foster social cooperation or negotiated peace are recognized as arbitrary, fragile, and temporary.  Any meaning will be found in the order and organization that can be preserved and maintained.  Order becomes its own meaning.

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.  What brought them together was the work of the Holy Spirit, the celebration of the fruition of God’s work in bringing earth to wholeness and His people to knowledge of his will in the Law and Torah.  Life was celebrated as the gift of God and communion in his abundant goodness.  The overflowing goodness of God bore fruit in the liberating freedom of humanity and creation. This is the story they shared, the whole of which they were integrated and integral parts.  Pentecost is the event which creates the church to be what it is.

When we have trouble communicating an experience, in exasperation we finally say, “You had to be there.”  The event was its own self explanation and burst beyond the limits of definition and organization.  The meaning is in the immediacy of the experience.  The meaning has to come to you, to appear to you as a gift which astounds, amazes, and fills you with joy.  “Jesus came and stood in their midst … The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” This is being there. 

This is having one’s own spirit brought to life and given the courage to think and act out of the untouched depths of our hearts.  We are brought out of locked doors into an unfolding connection and unity being created by the Spirit of God.

We are touched by the flame of God’s love and are liberated to go out into the world with a transforming power.  The whole revelation of Jesus needs to be fulfilled in us. “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled.”  His peace, His wholeness, His meta-narrative must grasp us so deeply that it unites the center and heart of our being to that of the love of Jesus. He breathed on them.

His peace is a gift and a mission.  It is living out of the unity we have in God, under the impetus of “the same God who produces all of them in everyone.  To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.”  It is the unifying peace of the Spirit which enables us to see and encourage the connections being made by the Spirit underneath the faces which look out at us.  We cannot be content with relating to ourselves, to others, or to creation in one-dimensional ways.  We cannot populate our lives with life-size cut-out photos in the way churches and sports arenas have done during the pandemic.  When we call upon the Lord to send down his Spirit in every eucharist and “to pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth,” we open our own hearts to be recreated in His love.