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Reflection on Pentecost Sunday

Posted on May 31, 2020, by Eileen Custy SL

Recently, in my reading I came across this sentence that caught my attention:

We like to think that we base our beliefs on evidence, but far more   often we arrange the evidence to fit our beliefs, distorting or excluding what won’t fit, seeking out evidence that will, surrounding ourselves with others who share them. 

                            — Charles Eisenstein

It struck me because for centuries that is what human beings have been doing in their efforts to understand God. We have assigned God a gender, named God omniscient, almighty, omnipotent, enthroned, judge, three persons in one and many other descriptions, none of which fit the reality. They probably served a purpose in their time and culture, but they just don’t tell us who God really is.

So now you are thinking “Oh, so she believes she knows who God really is? I don’t think so!” And you are right I don’t know anything about the mystery we call God, but nonetheless I do have some thoughts about it.

God revealed this name to Moses: “I AM.” It’s a verb, not a noun. We don’t think of ourselves as verbs so immediately this tells us that God is other. God is and is not like us. God has also been revealed as LOVE, again a verb. We know a little bit about love. Love is active, it inspires, supports, comforts, encourages, inspires confidence and strengthens resolve.

So here is what I think about God: God is the source of all life setting it into motion and allowing it the freedom to proceed at its own pace. If God is the source, then life cannot continue without God. That life, initiated by God, is present in all things throughout the universe. That life of God is in me and you.  It sustains us, it energizes us.

But why go to all the trouble of creating? Because if God is love, love has to share itself. That is the nature of love. Creation is the result of God’s need to share life and love. All of creation shares in that love — water, rocks, insects, animals, humans, planets, stars, galaxies — the whole of the universe.

Through Jesus, God lifted us up, teaching us how to love better. Jesus, in his short time on earth, showed us that love is inclusive of everyone and everything. Love serves wherever there is need. Love is compassionate and understanding. Love seeks justice and does not condone power over others.

All of the above is available through the workings of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is nothing more than the LOVE with which God is nudging us along in our path of life.

In the first chapter of Genesis we read: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  Is that not God’s love hovering over all of creation from the very beginning?

In today’s first reading from Acts we see a group of very nervous people. They have gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the ancient Jewish feast of Pentecost, a harvest feast. They were still practicing their Judaic customs. They were fledgling Christians trying to find their way. Many had known Jesus personally. They also considered themselves in danger because of what happened to Jesus.

What took place on that day and in those moments? Not fire and wind, that was only their way to describe the coming of the Spirit. What did happen changed them. They experienced the Spirit in some very strong way and were strengthened in their faith, ready to set out courageously in their mission to spread the Good News. It was a mystical experience that could not be adequately explained.

I feel sure we have all experienced the effects of love (I AM) in our lives. The love of our parents, a friend, a spouse, has changed us. When we first meet a person, we sort of size them up. Am I comfortable with this person? But as time goes on and a friendship develops, we become a part of that person and they become a part of us. There is mutual knowledge of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. We absorb one another’s uniqueness. Love is love – is God’s love for us any different? God knows us from our mother’s womb, when we sit and when we stand. As we spend time with God, doesn’t some of that love seep into our bones.

We experience the mystery of God in personal relationships but in other ways as well. The song of a bird, the snow-capped mountain, the tiny flower, the perfectly formed newborn, the beauty of a song all touches us at some level of self. We are moved by these happenings to the mystery of the God who gives us life, who loves us, walks with us and surrounds us with beauty. The Spirit (I AM) penetrates our hearts to give us a tiny hint of who God really is.So remembering my opening quote I have probably not based my beliefs on the evidence but arranged the evidence to fit my beliefs which just goes to prove once again that God (I AM) is still and will always be a mystery beyond our ability to grasp. But isn’t it fun to try?                                                              


Eileen Custy SL

Eileen Custy was born and raised on a dairy outside of Denver and attended a one-room schoolhouse for her first eight years. After a year of college at Loretto Heights, she joined the Sisters of Loretto. In spite of the fact that she thought at that time she never wanted to be a teacher, she loved the work and taught for 46 years. Most of those years were spent in El Paso, Texas. Eileen “retired” in 2004 and moved to Kentucky, where she served as an administrative assistant to the Motherhouse Coordinator for nearly 20 years before retiring in November 2023. Eileen continues to serve the Motherhouse Community, particularly pastorally.