Suddenly, Quietly, Pentecost
(Pentecost: Acts 2:1-11; Romans 8:8-17; John 20:19-23. Other options possible.)
By way of encouragement, St. Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome: “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit.” He then compared them to non-believers. “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”
By way of admonishment, a Beautiful Lady spoke to Christians in and well beyond the village of La Salette: “If I want my Son not to abandon you, I am obliged to plead with him constantly.” She wept at the prospect of hearing him say, “I don’t know those people, they don’t belong to me.”
The Spirit of God can dwell only where he is welcome. Mary’s aim was to prepare hearts to receive him. This is essential to our charism. Mary gives us the example of compassion paired with forthrightness, warnings with promises, reproaches with tenderness, and tears throughout—whatever it takes to touch us.
This echoes much of what we find in today’s Sequence, a magnificent poetic text composed some eight hundred years ago. We invoke the Spirit as “the soul’s most welcome guest;” he is “grateful coolness in the heat,” but we also ask him to “melt the frozen, warm the chill.”
In this same context we pray: “Bend the stubborn heart and will;… Guide the steps that go astray.” The Spirit was surely empowering the Blessed Virgin to accomplish these things at La Salette.
Our need of the Spirit is forcefully expressed: “Where you are not, we have naught.” This aptly sums up the second reading.
In Acts the Spirit is described in wind and fire, evoking the creation of the universe in Genesis 1. John, on the other hand, tells how Jesus breathed on the Apostles, closer to the creation of man in Genesis 2, where God “formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
The first is more dynamic, the other more intimate (in keeping with Jesus’ words, “Peace be with you” and the experience some have had of “resting” in the Spirit). Both offer life. However the Spirit comes to us, let us welcome him and place ourselves at his service.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.