May 16, 2016 by
David Jackson in
Reflections on Sunday Gospels
From fear to faith.
Introduction: Pentecost is a feast of fear and gifts, from locked in and paralyzed to fearless, zealous and activated. We might listen to the readings to get in touch with our fears and gifts, where we feel locked in traumatized or paralyzed and what we want to be released from.
Jesus Resurrection words to his followers were, “Peace be with you.” To this very day we use these words every time we gather to celebrate our Eucharistic meal. Why are we not activated as the first Christian Pentecost people were?
These words of Jesus have power and promise. For the apostles the words of Jesus turned their fear into faith. From anxious and doubting followers they were transformed into believers and proclaimers. They are a reminder to us that Christ can still turn our fears into faith. As Catholics we must face the reality that our actions do not lead very often into becoming proclaimers. The U.S. bishops pastoral on Peace cautioned us that peace is a gift and a task.
To Jesus locked doors were no obstacle. He became present, “Peace be with you.” “They locked the doors of the place where they were…” They were in hiding, afraid, confused, some may have been hopeless. Jesus comes and says, “Peace be with you.” In the Acts they were again all gathered in one room and through wind and fire God makes his presence known. We call this presence the Holy Spirit. Again God calls them from fear to faith. He moves them to be able to preach “the marvels of God.” I recently read a quote from Leonardo Boff of Brazil. He made a statement to this effect: “….the young people who are working with me for issues of justice and peace are not motivated so much by their Christianity as by their profound humanity.”
The promise of Pentecost is ours too. God calls us from fear to faith. He wishes to move us to be able to preach about the “marvels of God.” One of the marvels of God is the giftedness of each and every person. Ours is a call to a church in which there is cooperation of gifts not competition. We cannot be unaware that in our religious tradition now as in our political tradition competition and one upmanship is more present than cooperation. Today we are called to reflect on our fears but also on our Gifts. In the past I have asked a group to identify their gifts. The response was slow in coming. Than I asked them to identify their fears, they came fast and furious. Our promise is that Jesus and the Holy Spirit will do for us what he did for the early church. The Holy Spirit wishes to help us to get loosed where we are stuck. The Spirit helps us to get released when we feel locked in. God is calling us too from fear to faith. What is my response to the U.S. bishops challenge that peace is both a gift and a task? Why have peace issues practically disappeared from the U.S. bishops preaching and action? What are the issues that presently dominate the Catholic discussion in the U.S.? What issues do I need to be more involved with?