May 30, 2020

Don’t hold your breath!

Dear Friends,

The great celebration of Pentecost is upon us. The Church commemorates the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Christ’s first disciples. Filled with the breath of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were propelled out of their lockdown in the Upper Room. They took to the streets and the market places boldly proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. Their lives and the world would never be the same. 

In previous years, we would have marked the event of Pentecost by gathering inside our church for Mass, in our own “Upper Room”. But like the first disciples, having received the Holy Spirit in that sacred place, they would not be returning to the Upper Room any time soon. 

The “first parishioners” of the first church were sent forth into the world to fearlessly carry out their Christian mission in new and creative ways. The Upper Room, where they first encountered the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation was no longer the hive of Christian prayer and activity. The days that followed Pentecost were instead marked by missionary disciples planting seeds of faith in their own households, workplaces, and among friends and strangers. 

Yes, there would be, no doubt, a time when the disciples might return to the Upper Room where it all began. And that’s what we hope to do in the next few weeks ahead. However, in our preparation to return to church, don’t look at it as “picking up where we left off”. Nor should our coming back to church be like returning to a place of nostalgia. Our experience of being back will be different. But more importantly, we all should be different, even changed and matured in our Christian faith because of the very challenges we have all faced and the sacrifices we have made during these past months. In short, don’t come back as the same person you were!

My next communication will highlight how we can slowly begin to return back to church for Mass in public. But don’t hold your breath! Instead, allow the Holy Spirit, the breath of God, to continue to mold and shape your experiences, encounters and sacrifices with patience and perseverance. 

In the meantime, don’t be idle. You are a missionary disciple and there is still work to do in the outside world. The power of the Holy Spirit is not downloaded to the flock. It is poured out abundantly. The fire of the Holy Spirit purifies, it does not harm. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are freely given, they are not taken. You are His witnesses, not by phone or text, but instead by becoming Christ the healer and bringer of peace to a sick and fearful world. 

May Mary, Mother of the Church, always patient and always waiting, assure us we are never far from home. 

Getting Outside

“On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he had to get into a boat and ...