Ask any New Englander how they feel about the weather in these parts and without exception we would shake our heads and answer: “Unpredictable! The wind blows where it blows!” Ask them again if they would rather live someplace else and the answer would be a swift “No way!” For we have been wizened by many years of experiencing rapid weather changes, yet in the long run we enjoy how beautiful it is in this part of the country. Isn’t it peculiar that the beauty we enjoy comes along with unpredictability when we talk about our weather? Along the same line, as we celebrate the feast of Pentecost today, we acknowledge how unpredictable is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, yet how much beauty and joy the Spirit spreads. The Holy Spirit is oftentimes calming and peaceful in our hearts. Yet at other times the Spirit stirs us up to do acts of justice, especially when we have been remiss. We believe that at all times, the Spirit’s presence bespeaks God’s fierce love for us! In the Acts of the Apostles the Holy Spirit first came as a “strong driving wind.” The Spirit wanted to shake up the disciples to open their hearts more to their neighbors. But soon after the wind settled, the Spirit then appeared to them as “tongues of fire” which went over the disciples’ heads. He wanted to bring them the peace of Jesus. The wind and the fire not only wake up the disciples; they also move them out of their complacency and indifference. At first reluctant to allow others into their group, they were changed by the Holy Spirit which made them accepting of the languages and customs of the Gentiles. We sometimes forget that this push of the Holy Spirit continues to move us today in the same way. Jesus came to save the entire world. The Catholic Church is a universal church, not a local one. God calls us to welcome all people into His love because they are His children too. Do we not want to stay only within our own group? Do we take the time to welcome others into our circle? How do we respect their language and culture? Understandably it is not easy to accept different people whose customs seem strange. That is why the Holy Spirit gave us seven special gifts at our Confirmation: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety, and Fear of the Lord. Let’s use our gifts!
Then when we hear today’s Gospel from St. John, the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples like a gentle lamb. By the gentle breath of Jesus who says repeatedly: “Peace be with you!” The Spirit offers comfort and consolation. For they are given the power to forgive one another’s sins. The point for us is quite clear. In our world today we strive to experience the Holy Spirit’s presence in the time of tragedies and conflicts, like the shootings in our nation and the war in Ukraine. The Spirit is there to get us to act with justice and to condemn those who violate human dignity and human rights. At other times, the Spirit comes as God’s gentle breath, to give us hope and healing. These are the times of our sickness and losses when we feel sad and are in grief. In short, the Holy Spirit attends to us in all kinds of weather. Let us pray to the Spirit every day for guidance and strength. ~ Fr. John