Reflecon by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson
Eliza Doolittle had reached the breaking point. She is half of the duo, along with the language professor Henry Higgins in the Broadway play and later movie musical “My Fair Lady.” By this point in the story she has become sick of words. Why? Because for days now words, words and more words along with their proper and refined pronunciation have been drummed into her head by the professor. All this to win a bet that he could transform a Cockney flower girl into a refined British lady via her speech.
So when Eliza’s suitor, Freddy Hill, comes courting her by pouring out his heart to her with his speech she has, as we would say, “had it.” She bursts forth with her frustration and demands: “Don’t talk of love, show me!”
That whole scene from the musical came to my mind as I re- flected on this well known and very touching post Easter ap- pearance of the risen Lord to the disciples. We know that in the divine plan for our salvation Our Savior came among us to display God’s all embracing love. True, He did so using words immortal. But oh! Did He ever show us so much also with His actions! Consider the washing of the Apostles’ feet.
Here the disciples, huddled in fear of the Romans who had engineered the horror of Jesus’ crucifixion, were beyond themselves with joy and wonder that fine evening long ago when Jesus came in their midst. He also offered them His peace and then showed them the scars left behind on His risen body.
Fifty days afterward, and ten days after the Ascension return of Jesus to His Father, the first Novena was done. Now comes the promised Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to these first members of the Church on what will become known as its “birthday.” A whole panoply of visitors to Jerusalem hear their sermons in their native languages. Babel reversed.
This story overspreads all the hopelessness of the headlines on this twenty-first century Sunday. It permits us to rejoice that God offers us a powerful “show me” demonstration that wherever Jesus is preached to this day, love of God blooms. Our faith in Him and His Church is rewarded. Our hope is renewed. Our love for Jesus is requited.
Meanwhile, there is a wordless answer we can all make to the cynical demands of the world to “Show me!” It is eminently practical, yet it surely involves daily practice. It is this: A Christian is a person who makes it easier for other people to believe in God.”
Reading I: Acts 2: 1-11: St. Luke presents the dramatic miracle story of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. Storm, wind and fire manifest the heavenly origin of the Gift of the Spirit to the disciples.
Reading II: I Corinthians 12: 3b-7: Since the different spiritual gifts have the same origin, they share a common purpose. Like the parts of the human body, diversity is rooted in unity.
The Gospel: John 20: 19-23: The risen Jesus appears to the fearful disciples and greets them with a reas- suring “Peace be with you.” Note the word “apostles” is absent, so the power of forgiveness means be- stowing the Spirit upon believers, and not sacramental absolution.