On Pentecost, Let Us Remember the Church’s Beginning

Today we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost.  The promise of Jesus to his apostles was fulfilled as the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them and the whole world.  What a powerful gift the Holy Spirit is and what a profound impact this gift has made upon all of human history.

Let’s go back to the beginning where we find the apostles and others huddled together in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, behind locked doors out of fear, waiting for the fulfillment of the promise.  Little did they know what Jesus had in store for them and what this gift would mean to them and all people.

Great events often begin in small and hidden ways.  Things which begin with a big bang usually fizzle out, whereas things that begin quietly put down deep roots, grow steadily, and survive to produce rich and abundant fruit, fruit that lasts.

Today the Catholic Church has a membership of over 1.2 billion, not to mention our separated sisters and brothers who belong to other Christian communities.  They are scattered all over the world, and come from every tribe, race, and tongue.  Under Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, we all profess our common faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Traditionally this feast has been called the birthday of the Church.  How simple is its origin.  The Church which Jesus formed on the foundation of the Apostles was born in frailty, poverty, and weakness.  It had no property, no buildings, no money.  Its only resource was people, and there were not many of them.  As they waited for the promised gift of the Spirit, all the followers of Jesus were able to fit into one room.  The Church at its beginning was small but the members had spirit, and were united in prayer and charity.  The Church is sustained in her mission, not by structures and membership statistics, but by her prophets, martyrs, and saints.

The Church should never forget her humble origins.  We must always remember that we need a sense of closeness and belonging, of being community.  Church is all about community, our common unity in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit is described as fire and wind.  May the fire of the Spirit burn in our hearts with love for Jesus, and zeal for proclaiming the joy of the Gospel. May the wind of the Spirit blow in new adventures so that the Church will continue to be alive as she carries out her mission.

Pope Francis has reminded us by his personal example that the Church must be simple and humble in imitation of her Lord, returning to her roots so as to strip away all stands in the way of her mission.

— Fr. Dennis, May 20, 2018, Feast of Pentecost