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Reflection on Pentecost Sunday

Posted on May 23, 2021, by Kathy Wright SL

This year especially, I think Pentecost is a celebration of unity and community. When I read these readings for Pentecost this year, certain phrases struck me in a very different way because of the COVID-19 pandemic environment. The first line of the first reading says “… they were all in one place together” and all I could think of initially is how nice it would be for all of us to be together in one place; how nice it would have been to be able to hold an in-person Assembly this year and to be with each other sharing meals, conversations and prayer.

Then the reading goes on to say that “Jews from every nation under heaven were staying in Jerusalem … and they gathered in a large crowd.” And I thought how nice it would have been for Christians to be in Bethlehem at Christmas, and how nice it would be to travel and gather with Guatemalans, Hondurans, Haitians and others across our border to ease their suffering.

And I thought about how good it was that the fledgling Christian community was together; not alone trying to deal with everything that was happening. The value of community for them and for us in this past year is evident.

And when I thought about the second reading’s reminder that there are different kinds of spiritual gifts and different forms of service, but all from the same Spirit, I was reminded of Loretto’s perseverance in the face of the pandemic. The traditional fruits of the Holy Spirit were evident at the Motherhouse, throughout the Community and beyond in new and different forms of service in spite of a global pandemic. We have seen countless examples of charity, joy, patience, kindness, long-suffering, gentleness, fidelity and self-control in these trying times. So, in spite of everything, we know that the Spirit is certainly alive and well in our lives and in the world.

The first Pentecost and this Pentecost both represent the victory of courage over fear with the help of the Spirit. They both occurred during times of great change and all were challenged to choose courage and trust over fear. The first Christians had to expand their sense of church to include Gentiles and people from every nation on earth. They had to be open to accepting people who had persecuted them, like Saul, and then had a change of heart. We had to limit our activities and contacts while also expanding our sense of liturgy to include smaller in-person gatherings, Zoom attendance by many, Communion services in lieu of Mass, and, in some cases, a loss of daily Communion. But through it all we did not lose faith or lose sight of the role of community in sustaining our faith. Last week’s readings spoke of being consecrated in truth and in faith. I think we have each experienced that – the truth has been difficult at times, but our faith has carried us.

We celebrate the fact that the Spirit is not bound, not contained or curtailed by a pandemic or any other earthly force. The Gospel reminds us that the gift of the Spirit also includes the gift of peace that Jesus bestowed on the disciples. We graciously accept the consolation, peace and strength that has accompanied us through unimagined changes and loss.

We recognize our need for a new level of guidance from the Spirit in these times. In much the same way as the first followers of Jesus, who were uncertain how all of the recent events would unfold, we are taking one step at a time without knowing for sure how things will unfold in the future. We, like them, make the path by walking.

In the Hopi tradition, “the God of creation is the breath, and humankind is the mouthpiece.” In our tradition, the Spirit breathes on us, and we become God’s mouthpiece, God’s presence in the world. In the Hopi tradition, “the people are the building material of creation, bringing on their wings the lessons of time.” In our tradition, we are the building material of the new creation, that which is yearning to be in the world, and we carry in our hearts the lessons of time from the disciples, the Gospels, the Spirit and all those in Loretto who have gone before us. In the Hopi tradition, “timelessness, selflessness and oneness are the rhythms of the song the ancestors knew well.” In our tradition, we recognize the selflessness and oneness that Jesus exemplified and extends to us through the gifts of the Spirit.

No one was abandoned when Jesus left earth because we are given ways to continue to be deeply connected and one with God and with Jesus. Last week’s Gospel promised oneness with Jesus and God through love. We know the love of God and Jesus and the presence of the Spirit. And, in love, we share our gifts and the gifts of the Spirit in whatever ways we can – by phone, letters, email, Zoom, text messages, prayers, small daily acts of kindness and sharing our resources.

In spite of the many difficulties that we have faced, we recognize ourselves as blessed and fortunate. We are conscious of a world and a planet in deep need of love, healing and justice. As always, we recognize the strength of community and the promise that all is possible with God and the guidance of the Spirit. Pentecost is a time for us to renew our attention to the Spirit who is here with us and in us.

In Florida I can usually watch large billowing clouds roll across the sky each afternoon. It is a beautiful site, and I love to watch them and sometimes imagine what I might see if I were up there. It reminds me of the Holy Spirit, who I imagine is always hovering over Earth and entering into our lives wherever there is a heart open to receive the presence of the Spirit.

Kathy Wright SL

Kathy Wright SL

Kathy, a CPA, joined the Sisters of Loretto in 1986 and continued her service to a variety of non-profits (including Nerinx Hall and Loretto Academy) and Loretto with her financial skills. She has enjoyed serving on many committees, including the Investment Committee, Guatemala Sister Community Committee, Executive Committee, Finance Committee and Forum. Kathy lived and worked in Haiti, where she fell in love with the people there. She now resides in Florida.