Bread In The Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

All Saints Catholic Church

Sunday, May 24, 2015 is Pentecost Sunday. The readings are: Acts 2: 1-11, I Cor 12: 7, 12-13, and John 20: 19-23. The central story is that after the death of Jesus the followers were left bereft. Not only had Jesus been killed so brutally, but they—

All of them fled! This should have been the end. But it was the beginning. In their shame they kept gathering and remembering their own sin. But slowly hope came to them as Jesus began showing His love by appearing to them and giving them His profound peace.

It was not over. It was the beginning! The Acts of the Apostles tells us the Holy Spirit was the name given to the profound presence of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit came as in tongues of fire and entered each one of them.

Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit that they all received was one and the same Spirit but the gifts the Spirit brought differed in each person. The varieties of gifts were needed to form one body. There are many parts to the body but it is only one body. So the Body of Christ is made up of all of us as we bring our unique gifts. We are one body, the body of Christ.

And “We were all given to drink of the one Spirit.” The command our ancestors received is the same one each of us receives: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” To do what? First of all, since they had been forgiven for the horrible sin of abandoning Him, they would certainly want to forgive others. “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” No need to add the last command: “whose sins you retain are retained.” Who could not feel the intensity of Jesus’ forgiveness and not forgive others?

But forgiveness of others is only the start of our relationship with others. Love is the answer and “love” in the scripture is often called “agape.” And this is how Agape Love coming from the Holy Spirit can be defined: It is a love so profound that it will not end even if one dies for a friend. Jesus has shown that to us. Now we must do that in return. Martin Luther King said: “Agape is understanding, creative, redemptive goodwill for all…It is the love of God operating in the human heart. It is over-flowing love that seeks nothing in return…Love is a willingness to go the second mile in order to restore the broken community. Yes, love is the willingness to die on a cross in order that others may live.”

So, the great celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit in us and in the Church at Pentecost is lived out most profoundly not in the church, but in the community and world. Are we willing to go a second mile to help eliminate poverty, hunger, racism, white privilege, and the volcano of violence that has erupted in our cities? Are we willing to bring the “Culture of God” into our world?

Come Holy Spirit, come and fill the hearts of your faithful people, empower them to become the Body of Christ ready to give themselves to make this a better world, to restore a broken community.