We see and hear and all but feel the tremendous power of towering rockets aimed for long travel in space when we watch TV coverage of a launch from Cape Canaveral. This has happened so often that our initial fascination with this has waned considerably. We now have a country-wide “yawn” when such launchings happen since we’ve seen so many. Yet the fearsome power displays remain.

The Pentecost event involves divine power. It marks a departure from the usual quiet ways of God, if only for the duration of that wind that filled the house where the timid Apostles were hiding out. The fiery tongues over their heads were another frightening feature. We know the story well. Even more memorable was that reversal of Babylon when suddenly, many languages were heard and understood by everyone in the crowd that gathered outside.

The Holy Spirit made His case dramatically for sure. The worldwide Church of Christ was being born. It did so with a wonderful kind of power, the miraculous kind.

But the quieter and more customary pattern for divine appearances reappears when Christ reappears to His chosen on Easter evening, recorded for us in John’s gospel excerpt for today. Jesus appears on to them suddenly but quietly, in a room with locked doors.

What an occasion for reprimand, were Jesus so inclined. He would have been entitled to same if He wanted to bring up their cowardly conduct 48 hours previous when they had mostly fled from Him. Young John was the sole and glorious exception who had stayed at the foot of the cross with the sorrowful Mother and her friends.

Instead, Jesus offers a gentle benediction; “Peace be with you.” The disciples went from rejection to rejoicing. A foretaste of the warm reception we can experience when we make a good sacramental confession. There follows that humble display of the scars left on His hands and side from the horror of Roman crucifixion. Then His commissioning of them to preach and forgive sins.

All this power in its gentle form continues to be poured out into our enduring Church. That should encourage us to fulfill our responsibility to evangelize in the 21st century. We live now in a world that doesn’t care much for the message of Jesus even though it’s the only one replete with the truth that sets one free. Modern man will not easily dismount from his high horse of accepting only scientific truth as real. We know that. We also know that it is not an easy mission. But it never has been, right from the beginning. Even Jesus had to face opposition. So, dare we hope for less? Yet we have the conviction of its power when we simply consider Jesus’ empty tomb and the definitive statement it makes about who wins in the end. Just don’t look for praise because you won’t often receive it.

One Sunday morning after Mass a woman came up to the pastor and thanked him for his encouraging homily that day. In response, the priest said, “Why, don’t thank me, thank the Lord.” She then replied, “Well, I thought of that, but it wasn’t quite that good Father.

God love you, and Happy Pentecost!