Life after Easter – life in the Spirit

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(Wikipedia has helpful side-by-side translations)

In just a couple of days we will celebrate the last day of Easter and the birthday of the Church – Pentecost Sunday. The sequence Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit) will be chanted just before we hear the Gospel story of Christ’s coming to the Apostles – through locked doors no less! – and breathing on them. From the Latin word spiro (to breathe) we can see the root of the English word ‘spirit’. This takes on special meaning in the life of faith as we consider how the Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father & Son, sent this day to animate and embolden the fledgling Church. Accompanied by the Spirit they received, the Apostles found themselves ready to boldly proclaim the Gospel. As they received from Jesus, so they went forth to share with the whole world.

But we’re not there yet. On this eve of the eve of Pentecost, during the ten days after Christ’s Ascension and before the Holy Spirit’s descending, we followers of the Lord find ourselves in a strange in-between state of heavenly mission and earthly life. Even as we consider the mysteries we have celebrated over Lent & Easter, Ordinary Time is coming, calling for us to go out into the world. But we’re not quite there, not quite ready, so we wait for the Spirit promised by Christ.

I am convinced that it is no coincidence that we should find ourselves in this tension not only spiritually but materially. The next phase of Partners in the Gospel is mere weeks away. In just a month and a half, roughly 41% of the priests in our archdiocese will change parishes. Nearly every parish and school will go from operating independently to being joined with their neighboring communities to form parish families. Though great effort is going into making only necessary initial changes (and with great care, at that), those changes are felt by entire communities and the priests who will serve them. I daresaw we are already seeing a particular fruit of this: we can better sympathize with the disciples’ hiding away from everyone behind locked doors!

A photo of a red door  at the end of a hallway, between two windows on either wall before it
Church of our Saviour, Brookline
Photo by Kelly Sikkema, courtesy Unsplash

I find great consolation in Jesus’ approach to the fear of His friends. Rather than condemnation or judgment, He places Himself in their midst and offers them His peace. His sharing of His wounds strikes me not as some kind of comparison but as a reassurance – His victory over sin & death is also their victory. As they allow themselves to share in the joy of His triumph, He offers again the gift they so desperately need, “Peace be with you” before He endowing them with His authority & power, and then sending them out to proclaim the good news .

A print of an engraving of the work 'Outpouring of the Holy Spirit', depicting the Holy Spirit descending upon Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost

Like the Apostles, we have received the Holy Spirit by virtue of our baptism and confirmation. Nonetheless, we remain suspended between heaven and earth – because though the rising of the Lord marked the completion of His work, ours was only just beginning. We now follow along the way of Christ, offering as He did ourselves in ministry and self-sacrifice to proclaim the Gospel to the world. May we take this time to invite the Lord to address our own fears & uncertainties, accepting His gift of peace and renewing our relationship with & reception of the Holy Spirit. So empowered, we too will find ourselves ready for the mission of living & proclaiming the gospel in our communities and to the world.