Reflection on Pentecost Sunday
Acts 2:1-11 1 Corinthians 12:3-13 John 14:15-26
This feast of Pentecost is an inflection point.
We hear a lot about inflection points, especially in the news about mass shootings. We’ve just had two more in a long series and people are again hoping that maybe these latest shootings can be an inflection point, the events that finally put us on a different path toward gun safety. Let us pray it may be so.
With the war in Ukraine, and the conflicts in so many other countries around the world, generals and news commentators look for inflection points which might mean the conflict is turning toward certain victory. The scientific community has established a specific inflection point after which global warming will be impossible to reverse. Let us pray we may respond in time.
Inflection points are about change, dramatic change, significant change; near reversals or total re-orientations. In this sense, Pentecost was an inflection point in the faith of Jesus’s disciples. It was an inflection point for the emerging Christian community. This feast that we celebrate every year is also an inflection point in the liturgical calendar. And in these times, Pentecost can be the existential inflection point that reorients us toward Loretto’s future.
In both the Jewish and Christian traditions, Pentecost commemorates an historical inflection point when the faithful were reoriented by significant events to a new understanding of their calling. At Mt. Sinai the Jewish people received the Torah, the law, which set them on a new path with a new sense of themselves as God’s people. Huddled fearfully in a locked room, even as Jesus’s disciples observed this Jewish commemoration, they were transported into a new freedom, transformed by the Spirit.
Each year at Pentecost, our faith community relives this turning point, this moment of transformation. Leaving behind the seasons of high drama — Advent and Christmas, Lent, the Passion and Easter — we enter the season of Ordinary Time, turning our attention to the natural cycles of God’s creation, celebrating the gifts of God that we find in the ordinary days of our lives. In the new dispensation which Jesus initiated, the Gift of gifts is the Spirit of God, the gift of love and understanding, “given” in dramatic form at the conclusion of Jesus’ time on earth, so that we may know we are accompanied through every ordinary day.
Sometimes desperation enables us to profit from inflection points, sometimes quiet courage allows us to turn a corner; sometimes a sudden consciousness of love impels us through an inflexion point to a new phase of life. Sometimes we have to manage an inflection point; sometimes we have to recognize it and just go with the flow; sometimes we must reorient our entire thinking to recognize an inflection point as an opportunity, a moment of grace.
We are painfully aware that our beloved Loretto is at an inflection point, a turning point that cannot be reversed, brought about by the decline in numbers of our vowed members, and brought about as well by changes in the times we live in.
For decades together, for two centuries as a congregation, we have cherished the cycles of our lives. We have moved through the liturgical seasons year after year, bathed in grace, blessed in community, celebrating the high points of our faith and the ordinary days of our service. Loretto has experienced inflection points before when we faced big changes and new needs. We reoriented our lives with the blessing of Vatican II; we transformed ourselves in order to embrace the great diversity among us. Now Loretto has come to an existential inflection point, a short period in the coming years when we are challenged to consciously and conscientiously plan and set in motion a future not for ourselves or for future members, but a future nonetheless: a future for our Loretto Spirit in a new guise.
Let us pray particularly on this Pentecost day, that the Spirit who guides Loretto, that our present members, and all the sisters who preceded us, that Mary our friend beside whom we stand, that we all together may find courage, inspiration, graciousness and willingness to turn this corner and say with one heart and one voice: Let Loretto be Loretto as the Spirit is forming it for the future.