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Reflection on Pentecost Sunday

Posted on May 19, 2024, by Agnes Ann Schum SL

(Editor’s note: This is a joint reflection by Agnes Ann and Mary Nelson CoL.)

Do you think there was really a noise like a strong wind at this first outpouring of the Holy Spirit?  And do you think there really were tongues as of fire that came and rested on everyone?  It must be so since that is the traditional story of Pentecost. I have a more personal account of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

 At Pentecost I remember a time in my life when a small group of people from various backgrounds and languages came together in Kenya to rescue an abused woman and her four children. For their safety we needed to get them out of the country.  Since someone unknown to the local police needed to accompany them to the airport, I volunteered. In an armored caravan we rushed them to the waiting Lufthansa airplane. The Pentecost moment for me was the common language of caring and concern and relief when the plane lifted off.

There are many situations in the world today where a similar situation occurs — El Paso on our southern border, where some are providing food, others are washing sheets and towels, in Gaza where people are volunteering medical skills, in outreach to the homeless in our cities. St Paul writes, “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord- there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.”

I don’t think it’s a stretch to apply these Pentecost themes to our Assembly this summer.  We struggle in our personal and communal lives to truly understand one another. We can acknowledge differences in age, background and culture but the challenge is going deeper from knowledge to true acceptance and understanding. 

We depend on the Holy Spirit who has given each of us unique gifts but we also bring our own biases and hopes for the future; indeed, at times we seem to be speaking in different languages. Our challenge is to come to a common vision in the care and concern for each other — communally and individually. Respectful dialogue, honoring differences of opinion, and dependence on the one who  inspires us will lead us on the next step of our journey. 



Agnes Ann Schum SL

Agnes Ann , who resides at Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky., is a member of the Motherhouse’s pastoral community care team.