Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

The pope visits a distant outpost of the Church, far from the marbled halls of the Vatican.  A female celebrity makes an appearance at an event wearing an overly revealing evening gown.  A guerrilla fighter poses in the jungle holding aloft his powerful machine gun wearing a snarling face.  These three are examples of how our actions make a statement.

In a certain way, the Pentecost event also “makes a statement.” It is clear, certain and captivating.  God had done things like this before, as the Bible recounts. Recall the dramatic signs that accompanied the freed Israelites. The Red Sea parts in two, providing them an escape route from Pharaoh and his charioteer warriors.  A daytime cloud later guides them, with a fiery pillar doing the same at night.  A statement is made over and over.

In the New Testament, we read of a virgin birth, springing from the teen-aged Mary’s consent.  God presents the world with its Savior nine months later.  The baby is heralded by choirs of angels and a star that shines over the little town of Bethlehem.  That Child grew to be a powerful but usually mild-mannered Messiah who worked miracles of healing and life-restoring. But He could turn justifiably angry when people chose to disrespect His Father’s house, or ignore the poor among them. His many healings made an unmistakable statement.  Not to omit the several times He restored life to the already dead.  At His resurrection, He made the greatest statement ever made, both about His Father’s power and promises.

The story continues today with the events of the first Pentecost. God the Holy Spirit comes among the prayerfully gathered Apostles, with Mary His Mother in the midst, with sound and fury to reassure the chosen Apostles before they left that room and walked outside to tell their life-changing story. Language barriers fell down in an amazing way. Later, the new community saw that day as the Birthday of the Church, which doesn’t just have a mission but is one, now and until the end of time.

Friends, here we are, some 21 centuries later, mere moments in God’s reckoning of time.  We really are capable of “making a statement” of our own to the world about Christ.  Somehow we know that the statement we make is the very “stuff” also of our final judgment. But it behooves us to become listeners of the Word first, in order to speak about it with authenticity. Here is the poet on that very subject:

“His thoughts were slow,
His words were few and never formed to glisten.
But he was a joy to all his friends,
You should have heard him listen!”

God love you and give you His Pentecost peace.

Reading I:  Acts 2: 1-11: The vivid Pentecost scene describes a very special visitation of the Holy Spirit into the human story, and with it, the Church is born.

Reading II:  I Corinthians 12: 3b-7, 12-13: Paul fights against any elitism in the community by declaring that everyone receives the same Holy Spirit.  This despite the fact that each person has his/her individual gifts and talents that benefit the group.

The Gospel:  John 20: 19-23: Jesus makes His promised return to the disciples, showing them His now glorified body, complete with the scars of His crucifixion.  He then wishes them peace and sends them out on mission.