Study: Reflect on a time when you encountered a difficult experience. Where did you find your strength?
Pray: Ask for the Holy Spirit to help you, especially to unite with others in challenging situations.
Serve: How can you help foster unity in your life? What can you do to bring people together?
It can be somewhat confusing to know what readings to follow – depending on the day and the options available a person can hear a number of different Scripture readings this weekend. Stepping back for a moment, however, we can tease out some major themes that surface on this important feast of the Church:
- Power – to face what comes before us with God’s strength
- Unity – to join together beyond boundaries and divisions
In many respects this feast marks the birthday of the Church. The disciples, having watched the Lord ascend to Heaven, are now “on their own” to carry out the Good News of Christ. The point, of course, is that they are not alone! Filled with the Holy Spirit their hearts are transformed and their lives forever changed. They have become willing instruments empowered by the Spirit to speak and act for the glory of God. They don’t look anything like their former selves – timid, fearful, and self-serving; they now fearlessly engage the world with the conviction that Jesus is Lord.
And as they are strengthened by the Spirit one sign increasingly becomes apparent – the unity of believers as a self evident sign that God’s grace is at work. Several approaches underscore this sense of unity:
- Understanding one another beyond the challenge of language
- Working together as a body does with its many parts
- Becoming spiritually fruitful
- Forgiveness with one another
Language, cooperation, fruitfulness, and forgiveness are all hallmarks of the Spirit’s presence in our lives. All are crucial and take an enormous amount of effort – supported by the POWER of the Holy Spirit!
Is there a place in our lives today that would benefit from unity? Are there relationships and situations that require healing and strength to grow? Do we recognize circumstances (perhaps beyond our control) that cry out for the Lord’s intervention? If so, then we can confidently turn to the Spirit for the grace we need to face what lies before us.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful , grant that by the same Spirit we may be truly wise, and ever rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Pentecost, Eugenio Hansen, OFS; 25 April 2012, stained glass, 2590 x 4115 pixels, Pelotas Cathedral, Brazil.