These days all of us are confronted with situations which seem confusing and contradictory and we wonder where we are going and what the outcome might be. At times we may feel quite helpless in these kinds of circumstances. Today we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on this Feast of Pentecost. The night before he died Jesus, aware of the implications for his followers of his forthcoming death and eventual return to his Father in Heaven, promised that he would not leave his disciples to make their way in this world on their own and would send the Holy Spirit to guide them on their journey. In that sense the Holy Spirit gives expression to the on-going presence of Jesus with his followers. This is what we celebrate on this Feast
Pentecost is not just some thing that happened but rather is a living gift for all generations. As followers of Christ, the Spirit of his love anoints us all with great hope and rich blessings. During this uncertain time of pandemic and necessary restrictions, the Spirit of Christ, this Pentecost, offers opportunity to indulge in a wonderful gift. The Spirit of God anoints each one of us with courage, wisdom, hope, resilience and a deep confidence that all will be well.
In the last years of his life, the great cellist and conductor Pablo Casals suffered greatly from rheumatoid arthritis and emphysema. At 90, he was badly stooped, his head thrust forward, and his breathing laboured. He needed the help of his wife, Marta, to get dressed in the morning. Marta would then help him shuffle into his studio where he would, with great difficulty, arrange himself on the piano bench. Casals would then manage to raise his swollen, clenched fingers above the keyboard. A visitor describes what he saw next, one particular morning: “I was not prepared for the miracle that was about to happen. The fingers slowly unlocked and reached toward the keys like the buds of a plant toward the sunlight. His back straightened. He seemed to breathe more freely. Now his fingers settled on the keys. Then came the opening bars of Bach’s Wohltemperierte Klavier [Well-tempered Clavier], played with great sensitivity and control . . He hummed as he played, then said that Bach ‘spoke to him here’ – and he placed his hand over his heart. “Then he plunged into a Brahms concerto and his fingers, now agile and powerful, raced across the keyboard with dazzling speed. His entire body seemed fused with the music; it was no longer stiff and shrunken but supple and graceful and completely freed of its arthritic coils. “Having finished the piece, he stood up by himself, far straighter and taller than when he had come into the room. He walked to the breakfast table with no trace of a shuffle, ate heartily, talked animatedly, finished the meal, then went for a walk on the beach.” (From Anatomy of an Illness as Perceived by the Patient: Reflections on Healing and Regeneration by Norman Cousins).
Like music that inspires and exhilarates, the Spirit of God is the melody that energizes the Church, uniting our many different voices into the song of the Love of God. God has formed us into a community, or Church, an instrument for bringing His life and love into our world. But what makes our Church more than just a gathering of good people is His “Breath” infusing the Church, His Mystical Body, with the music of His Divinity. Today we celebrate that presence. In Jesus’ breathing upon the assembled disciples on Easter night the new life of the Holy Spirit, the community of the Resurrection — the Church — takes flight. That same Holy Spirit continues to “blow” through today’s Church, giving life and direction to our mission and ministry to preach the Gospel to every nation, immersing all of humanity in the music of God’s love, the symphony of the Resurrection.