This week I will attempt to establish a common thread running through all three readings, and the Psalm. ACTS 4: 8 - 12 PSALM 117 (OR 116) 1 JOHN 3:...
Last week unfinished business – our business, was mentioned. The Solemnity of Pentecost reminds us of the urgency of this business in which we should involve ourselves with renewed enthusiasm.
At once let us refer to the
FIRST SCRIPTURE READING [ACTS 2: 1 – 11]. There w are presented with two images which provide impetus for reflection.
, we have the “rush of a mighty wind” and “tongues as of fire ..” Bush fires are always a real danger in our own country, and when these are combined with a wind, the results are not only spectacular but can be devastating. Recently, on television, many of us have been awe-struck by footage of bush fires in Australia.
However, in Gospel terms the image presented is not horrific but creative. Even in nature fire has the ability of promoting new growth. Controlled veld burning in South Africa is common way of engendering fresh grazing. In addition there is the fabled image of the phoenix rising from the ashes.
It needs to be emphasised that too often in the life of the Church veld fires are extinguished too quickly too soon. The response should be to harness them in such a way that they become creative. In my own experience I have ‘seen’ beginnings of veld fires, and experienced the urge to turn on a
LARGE CEILING FAN. Instead, what has happened is the authoritative call to the fire brigade.
I often wonder what would have followed the Pentecost experience described in the reading if Peter had stood up and said – ‘Listen guys, let us not become over enthusiastic … we need to sit down, collect our thoughts, and be sensible? It all sounds very good, but there really are practical considerations we should take into account?’ This sound familiar? If not, you have clearly not been in attendance at too many Parish or Diocesan meetings.
, do not forget that the tongues of fire were “distributed and rested on each one present.” Begin a reflection on the fact that the ‘tongues’ were distributed on each one. What particular or special ‘tongue’ was given to me at the distribution? I need to think of something concrete and specific – NAME it, and OWN it! Then, I must challenge myself: is this ‘tongue’ still RESTING on me, or has it been used, creatively, willingly, and with enthusiasm? As mentioned last week, age may have increased and energy diminished, but I the ‘tongue’ is still there, and should be ignited – even if only with a gentle breeze. So, I used to be active and enthusiastic in the choir or flower ministry but am no longer able to ‘do’ it? Well, I am still able to sing the Mass hymns – and sing them well – so SING and so provide encouragement to those around you who are somewhat hesitant. The flower ministry … perhaps I can afford to pay for flowers in the parish church once a month or quarter? The list of examples and possibilities is endless! Never sell yourself short – and stop bemoaning genuine limitations. The good Lord is not finished with me yet, and I need to give him cause for joy. Think on the words of the closing stanza of THIS SUNDAY’S PSALM [104 OR 103].
May the glory of the Lord last forever!
May the Lord rejoice in his works!
May my thoughts be pleasing to him.
I will rejoice in the Lord.
Return to the hypothetical reaction of Saint Peter proposed a little earlier in this reflection. It is a total negation of these words from the Psalm.
In all of this we must never overlook the fact that the tongues distributed and resting on us have been given for the good of the whole Church. In a strange but real way my ‘tongue’ is not my own private possession with which to do or not to do at my own discretion. My gift is your gift, and your gift mine. Together,
OUR gifts are the gifts of the Church.
As we did last week let us ‘hang’ all that has been said so far on some key phrases from our two remaining scriptural readings –
ROMANS 8: 8 – 17, and JOHN 14: 15 – 16. 23b – 26.
ROMANS, we read “you are in the Spirit.” When will we really learn that this is the truth – and stop pussyfooting around. Then, Paul proclaims that “we are debtors not to the flesh.” It follows, then, that we are debtors to the Spirit, and this implies that we stop allowing our ‘tongue’ merely to rest or carry on resting.
In the Gospel extract Jesus tells us that the Counsellor who is given will be with us for ever. No good pretending the tongue we knew we once had is no longer there. In fact, the Lord goes on to say that “the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things.”
Old dogs (me, you, us, and the Church) can be taught new tricks! Are we eager for these new tricks?