Echoing biblical stories such as Moses and the burning bush, Teilhard de Chardin frequently uses the imagery of fire to describe the presence of God. On Pentecost, the Church has multiple options for the Second Reading and the Gospel. Today’s reflection goes back over a decade, which was written in 2000 by Patricia Datchuck Sánchez. You can read the full reflection here, but it begins:
“The day will come,” said Teilhard de Chardin, “when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides and gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.” In a sense the annual feast of Pentecost is another opportunity, placed in the path of the believer, for discovering and participating in the ever-present fire which is God’s love. Pentecost rounds out and climaxes the Easter event. All that we have remembered and celebrated, viz., Jesus’ saving death, his resurrection and ascension to glory, all of these sacred events took place so that the Holy Spirit might be unleashed upon the world.”
Following up on this outstanding quote by Ms. Sánchez, here is a reflection by the Irish Jesuits at Sacred Space
“A message for all
Immediately, the apostles go out and begin to speak to the crowds of people. Jerusalem is filled with Jewish and convert visitors from all over the Mediterranean, from Asia Minor, Egypt and North Africa, even Rome, to celebrate the feast. These people are amazed to hear men, who are clearly relatively unlettered people from the province of Galilee, speaking to them in so many languages.
The meaning is clear. What the apostles are preaching is a message destined for the whole world and not just for one people. A long time ago, as described in the book of Genesis, men tried to build a tower right up to heaven. For such arrogance they were punished by having to speak in a myriad of languages unintelligible to others. Humanity became deeply divided.
Today, Babel is reversed. All are speaking and hearing the message with full understanding; people are being brought together in unity under God.”
The message from Pentecost could not be more clear. Once he have had the holy fire of the Spirit touch our hearts, we have an obligation to live the Gospel. I am reminded of the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
Twenty-first century Western Culture can be very cynical. Detractors of religious institutions have, often justifiably, been critical of the sometimes wide gap between what religious people profess to believe in and their actions. Christianity in the U.S. has lost the power of its message due to this hypocrisy.
I was talking to a friend of mine this week who is a very spiritual and giving person. I have witnessed her care for her elderly Mother for years and more recently care for her husband who is a quadriplegic due to a freak accident. Further, she is a spiritual person in the sense that she is not a scientific, materialistic reductionist. She recently went to a talk by the Dalai Lama and she was talking about his message of peace, compassion and the interconnectiveness of humanity and God’s creation that the Dalai Lama had. It was interesting in how the Dalai Lama was incorporating the Gospel message into his speech, but what really struck me was that my friend was inspired by this message and viewed it as someone novel in individualistic, materialistic U.S. culture. It was a message that resonated with my friend, but despite living her whole life in a supposedly Christian nation, she did not associate the Gospel message with Christianity. This is a stunning indictment of Christianity (and of me as she has known me over almost a decade).
Dear Almighty God: On Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, please grant me the grace to live the Gospel through my actions. Lord, help me to find the fire of inner joy with you and to spread your joy to others through my actions.
Your humble servant.