Sunday, June 19, 2011
Blog # 154 Pentecost a week late
Blog 154 Pentecost a Week Late This blog is a copy of an article in the church bulletin when I was responsible for St. William's in Sandersville. It is dated Pentecost June 4, 1995. In reading it over I was blessed by it and thought it might make a fitting blog for Pentecost,2011,even a week late. One day this week I decided the 'life' of my jogging shoes had ended. It was a decision the seemed a bit important to me and was colored with a bit of sadness. The shoes had served well, giving comfort and protection since 1991. I estimated we had covered more than five thousand miles together. The shoes and I had gone on vacation together to far away places like Oregon, California, and New York . Recently we had been walking together almost every morning before dawn either over to the local hospital or around the track at the high school. It is almost a mile from here to the high school track. On the way over the shoes and I were going someplace,to the track. On the way back we were going home. In between we were just walking. Most days it was a distance of five miles. We covered every inch of it together. I was following the pattern of daily exercise recommended for good health. But in addition to that and more importantly for me, the habit of walking all these miles the first thing each mornng was sort of a guarantee I wanted for having a special and extended time each day for prayer meditation and reflection. Most of the thoughts in our bulletins and in my Sunday morning homilies came to me while walking in the mornings. But my shoes did not and could not know any of this. They were with me and were part of it, but did not know what they were doing. I was maintaining good health and growing in my relationship with the Lord. The shoes were wearing thin. What has this to do with the celebration of Pentecost '95? Here is how I see it. Almost totally before Vatican II, and still in many areas of our Catholic experience, priests and Sisters were identified as those who were especially holy or close to God and Jesus in the Church. No banquet graduation or wedding reception was begun without a prayer of the priest if he were in the room. He knew the Bible. He answered all religious questions without hesitation and with authority. This was the expectation of the 'faithful', the word commonly used for lay members of the Church. The priest was trained for this through a minimum of four years of post graduate work in theology and the experience of a specially focused daily regimen of prayer, mediation and discipline. There were leaders. There were followers. It was what you would naturally expect, and the Church was at peace. Then a new era of history began to appear. Change was everywhere. Textbooks that seemed to be up to date before World War II were now just the story of what used to be. This was true of medicine physics chemistry social sciences and theology, all the way up and down the line. It is important to know where we have come from in all of these fields in order to know more fully where we are at the present. But there is a difference between being a teacher of the history of medicine and being a current neurosurgeon. So there is a difference between knowing the Beatitudes and being blessed by them personally today. And between knowing that Pentecost happened for Peter James and John and between letting it happen for us today. What itwas for the Apostles, yes. But also what it is for us today. We like to think of Pentecost as the 'birthday' of the Church. As members of the Church we do have different functions in a way similar to the different functions of hands and feet head and heart in the life of our body. But as the Church we are one Body. We are not related to one another as shoes on the feet of a walker, going along the same path but not sharing a common life, a common chosen goal. We belong to one another. We grow or diminish, are healthy or sick, together. We can injure or help one another. We are called to this in the love of Jesus we are given to share in the one life we receive in Baptism. But because it is love, it must be done in freedom. In other words the first question is not do you understand?,but rather do you desire? Come, Holy Spirit, is our prayer.