I cannot allow Pentecost to slip by without a thought. I shared with our people that "fear" and "peace" are the operative words on the great feast of the Holy Spirit.
From the first moments of our interaction with each other as a human race we have lived in fear. Our fear is of the unknown, of tomorrow, a fear of thunder and lightning and the elements, a fear of being left behind, or of being ignored, or even fear of fear itself. Our fears come from our arrogance and conceit, our selfishness and self centeredness, our shortsightedness and sinfulness. Even the Apostles with Mary and those in the upper room on that Pentecost morning had the doors locked for fear of the authorities and the uncertainty of what the promise would mean for them. I grew up in the era of the "cold war" and our fear was of a nuclear threat, of the atomic bomb, and of Russia. Today we fear terrorism in light of 911 and the Taliban and the Russian State (some things never change). We fear our government and each other.
But the message of Pentecost reminds us that the very first words spoken by Jesus to his friends after the Resurrection were "Peace be with you". He says it again and again - "Peace be with you". He sends the Spirit of peace in the Paraclete, who dispels all fear and replaces it with that confident assurance and trust in the certainty of love that is the gift of the Spirit. It is what allowed those in the upper room to unlock the doors and to boldly go out to proclaim the Good News to thousands that day and to countless peoples throughout these 2000+ years.
Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. Come Holy Spirit, come!
For the second year running we chose to celebrate the extended Pentecost Vigil here at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. It was wonderful. The opportunity to do so is given in the new Roman Missal, and involves the additional beautiful readings from the Hebrew Scriptures that in former days were options for the first reading - the story of Babel in Genesis, Deuteronomy, Ezekiel 37 and Joel. If you have never experienced it, ask your pastor to consider it for the vigil next Pentecost.