Though Pentecost marks the end of the Easter Season, our Parish Community rejoices in the coming of the Holy Spirit as we are reminded of our belonging to Christ, the ongoing presence of Jesus in each of us and in the Church, and the welcome we need to extend to all.
Reflecting on the first Pentecost, we can understand the fears that prompted the disciples to gather behind locked doors, yet this is the opposite of welcome. Very few people leave their doors unlocked these days. Even when we leave our car unattended for a couple of minutes, we usually lock the doors. We are more likely to find homes unlocked in the country than in the city - an unfortunate reminder of how we live, of our fears perhaps, and the times we close the doors of our hearts to other people.
Irish Augustinian Fr John Byrne reflects on how some people have the gift of breaking through our closed doors and asks: Do you have memories of people getting through to you and being with you despite your closed doors? Who brought you peace in a time of anxiety? These questions may resonate with us as we recall times of particular personal need. Sometimes when we show our vulnerability to another, they are freed to share their vulnerability with us – as the Lord did – ’Jesus showed his wounds to his friends.’
While Pentecost is not primarily about our difficult times, a close look at the Spirit’s gifts and fruits reveals just how graced we are and what a remarkable God-given capacity each of us has to grow and to support others. The 7 Gifts of the Spirit enhance our personal goodness and our capacity to know God and connect with others. The Fruits on the other hand are what the Spirit ‘produces’ in us that allows us to both model the God-life and embrace and welcome others - Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity and Gentleness.
Gifts can only change us if we ‘receive’ them, welcome them and act upon them. So with the gifts and fruits of the Spirit which have a remarkable power to change our lives, make us free, give us ‘wings’, so to speak. Think of the gifts that parents give to their children; think of the gifts that our parents have ‘called forth’ from within us.
The whole point of Jesus’ returning to his Father is so that he can be present with us in an even more intense way, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This is both a personal and communal invitation.
Reflecting on our personal, spiritual journey, we might ask: Who are the Spirit-filled people in our lives? How do we recognise them? Aren’t they the ones who forgive readily, love generously, bear with our limitations, listen carefully, act justly, walk humbly with their God? Thankfully, we don’t have to look very far – but we do need to name them!
The most recent National Church Life Survey noted Building a Strong Sense of Community as our first priority at North Harbour. As a Parish Community, we must constantly renew ourselves so that this spirit of welcome continues.
May this day be a time of sacred encounter as we celebrate together!