In a most captivating film ‘The Crying Game’, one of the main characters tells a tale about a scorpion standing at the edge of a pond, wanting to cross to the other side. Along comes your friendly frog, who on spotting the somewhat agitated creature, kindly offers to give him a piggy back ride across the still waters. So, greatly relieved, the scorpion attaches itself to the back of the frog, who starts ferrying the stranger from one side to the other. Half way across, the poor frog feels a piercing sting enter his body, and gradually losing strength both of them find themselves sinking to their watery resting place. The frog drawing on the last bit of oxygen remaining within his lungs, cries out to the scorpion, ‘why did you sting me with your poisonous fang?’ The final words audible to both of them were uttered by the scorpion in reply.
‘It’s my nature!’
The feast of Pentecost celebrates nature, but in this case, human nature. The dramatic account in the first reading Acts 2: 1 – 11 describing the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles is a timely reminder to us humans that the ‘God gene’ resides deep within our being,
‘God is love’
The feast therefore invites us to feel, sense, indulge ourselves in this Divine energy, because it is part of who we are, it is part of what we can be. The feast is an invitation to let go the fears, inhibitions, blocks which prevent us from living well, and walk as
‘Children of the Light’
Pentecost is very much linked with the Easter Triduum, the special few days which provide us with a microcosm of all that is good and noble in life vying with all that is destructive and base in life. The account ends with celebrating the fact that despite being overwhelmed by bitter darkness and failure, goodness emerges victorious. As I write, a memory comes back to me of my final year in Maynooth designing a poster based on the two words, God & Good. Subtract one ‘o’ from good and what do you get!!
Pentecost Sunday is an extension of the Paschal theme with the focus now shifting away from the Risen Lord, and zoning in a particular group of individuals; his followers.
In the room that evening, they were a petrified group; their world, their hopes, their dreams were dashed, and life was bleak, and then something transformative happened. As was the case for Christ, the ‘stone is rolled away’; a new energy pervades the group, and even to their own amazement, we’re told that they emerged from the safety cocoon that had bound them by fear, and throwing caution to the wind, they begin to preach to the diverse multitude in Jerusalem about the ‘marvels of God’. It’s as if finally the penny drops, the word eventually takes flesh withing them individually and communally, They are infused with the wonder of the Good News and no obstacle is going to prevent them from celebrating and proclaiming the Word in a public way.
I’m mindful as well that this dramatic transformative event took place within a community setting, the significance of which is deserving of future consideration.
So, in a sense, Pentecost celebrates a group of people, who
through him, with him and in him,
come to know their true nature; that indeed they are Spiritual beings, and now sensing the Spirit of God actually within them. This awareness radically transforms their lives. Henceforth they live and celebrate their lives with this deep sense of God with them. The nature of their faith could now be classified as ‘Christian Faith’.
A reading from Paul to Timothy, last Wednesday 3rd June, indicates
how the disciples came to this awareness through Christ.
This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed
through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:6ff
The lives they live are now very much shaped by a ‘Christian mindset’, with Christ at their Centre of Value and Power,
‘the Way, the Truth and the Life’
Last Thursday, was a sad day for the parish. It was to be the day the many students from the three schools in the parish were to be Confirmed. Alas, it was not to be, and still I hope that the children and their families were able to mark the day with a wee celebration
These young people have journeyed through 8 precious years of their lives. What they have become in that short period of time is amazing; to realise that within a relatively short number of years they have become sophisticated, capable, self-conscious fragile individuals. Their journey through early childhood, coming to realise by degrees that they are not the centre of the universe but part of a much larger and complex world presumes a lot of adjusting and adapting. Through immersing themselves in communal activity at a family, school and parish level, the Gifts of the Spirit have been honed and formed within each child.
This final school term, is usually a lovely term for the senior class. They have reached the stage of being the elders in their respective academies, and having come through the system, they can now indulge in the knowledge that they have achieved something great at an academic, and interpersonal level. For the final few weeks, teacher take the foot somewhat of the pedal, and allow the students some latitude with freebees and certain concessions not granted to the junior.
This final term is also the time the young people celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is a lovely sacrament if you see it in the context of what they have become over the past 8 years. The community prays that they will be filled with a spirit of
Wisdom, Understanding, Council, Fortitude,
Knowledge, Piety and Awe of the Lord.
The seeds of these gifts have been planted and nurtured within the children through the love, care and dedication of family, school & community. The young people have become what they are through the generosity of others along with their own capacity to process the ups and downs of life. On Confirmation Day, they are ‘Confirmed’, ‘Affirmed’, ‘Acknowledged’, by the assembly in the House of the Local Church.
It is a lovely occasion in which, through ritual, song, word and deed, family, school and community celebrate with them, and give thanks for them. For the young people this is a time to feel proud, take a breath, and while indulging in the ‘time out’, brace themselves for the next chapter in their lives.
Let us pray that these ‘young voyagers.’ may come to an inner awareness there is also present to them a power, a Divine Presence, who is ‘on their side’ and who desires earnestly to show them a way that is holy and wholesome.