May 27, 2012 – Pentecost Sunday

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Today is Pentecost, one of my favorite celebrations of the year. The story we hear in the first reading is one of those striking moments in history, when something new (and still older than time) broke out in the world. Ordinary people were given great grace to do extraordinary things on an unprecedented scale. The laws of nature were bent in service of the Gospel.

We’re naturally drawn to heroic stories and intrigued by the spectacle of miracles and manifestations of the supernatural. These are intense realities worthy of reflection, but I want to focus on two other aspects of this reality that can sometimes be easy to overlook in everyday life. The miraculous is here and now, right in front of us, and our encounter with the Divine should move us to action.

Not long ago, I was at a diocesan youth conference praying and reflecting on stories like today’s readings, when the thought occurred to me, “Wouldn’t it have been amazing to have been there when God did the BIG things? Would our world pay more attention to His Presence if they witnessed such things?” I answered myself and an inner dialogue ensued. (What? You know you talk to yourself, too.) “Well, even then, people saw it first-hand and still walked away. Even the Israelites in the Exodus story had a hard time to keep from backsliding and going back to “comfortable” old ways, and look at the miraculous events they were involved in.” People even asked Jesus point-blank for a sign (Matthew 12:38-41, 16:1-4, Mark 8:11-12).

At about this time in my little chat with my own thoughts, it was time to prepare for Mass. The miraculous was about to unfold right in front of us, and we were about to be present at the central point of history. I say this just about every time Apex gives a presentation, and I do so because it is precisely the message I need to be constantly reminded of: The miraculous is constantly present, right in front of us. We have grown accustomed to spiritual blinders and only perceive a small part of reality. What Christ invites us to do, and what the Saints have done, is to invite the Holy Spirit into our very being and allow ourselves to be renewed.

The Responsorial Psalm states: “Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.” Well, we are the ones to be renewed and to carry that light of Christ to the dark places of the world. Once we allow that Spirit entry, we have to endure the purifying fire, endure transformation to be bearers of the Light, to let the Light live in us. Then, like the Saints, we will be more aware of the miraculous in our midst and be able to respond to it. Being aware is the first step. Recognizing our task to bear that Light to the world is the second. Once we encounter the Divine, we are called to put revelation into action. One minute the disciples were together in a house, the next they were out in the public square unable to stop sharing about the amazing things God had done that they witnessed. The Holy Spirit moved them to action.

When we pray for the Lord to send out His Spirit and renew the face of the earth, we have to be prepared to be the vessels, to carry that Spirit and witness that reality with our lives. You are the means God has chosen to renew the earth with His Spirit. Be aware of the miraculous right in front of you, and be bold enough to carry the Light into the dark places of the world.

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