When the day of Pentecost had come, Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know — this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law.
“But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power. For David says concerning him, ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One experience corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”
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I often consider what the original day of Pentecost was like. The Apostles and Mary, gathered in the Upper Room where Jesus had instituted the gift of the Eucharist, receiving a more permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Prophecies fulfilled and the Church born! Peter speaks to the multitude, some perplexed and others skeptical and mocking. He reminds them of their witness to the proven power of God through Jesus and His works, and of David’s prophecy of the resurrection power of Jesus and the promise that God is always with us.
What would my reaction have been had I been there that day? Would I have been one of the perplexed? Or skeptical, listening to the various tongues around me with one eye open? Would I understand what He meant when He promised to always be with me through the Holy Spirit and Eucharist?
If I’m honest, had I answered those questions pre-COVID, I would have to admit that I may have been one of those in the crowd with one eye open, sneaking furtive gazes around those who fully believe and had submitted themselves to the power of the Holy Spirit. It’s not so much that I doubt, but I can certainly allow my humanness to push out the mystery of faith. Several weeks into a global pandemic, I am having my own personal Pentecost and have become even more grateful for Jesus’ resurrection power.
This pandemic has turned our modern society upside down. The importance of “things”, including the physical walls of a church building and everything I normally do in those buildings, has shifted. It’s like the Lord has broken down the physical walls that I was safely hiding behind and stripped me of all my good Christian activities. He even made me so busy with my work that I have had to take a leave from some of my church related activities that are flourishing during this time.
All that is left for me is to be in relationship with Him. Naked, vulnerable, and open. Now instead of being busy preparing music for liturgies, I’m joining in from my living room with thousands of others, singing songs I didn’t get to choose, really reflecting on the readings and homilies.
And then we arrive at Eucharist. My heart breaks open every time I recite the Prayer of Spiritual Communion: My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
God always had and always will have a plan. Amidst all of this, He has reminded me He is always here. I close that other eye and press into Him.