This weekend we celebrate Pentecost, the feast of the Holy Spirit. I am struck by the description in our first reading, from Acts of the Apostles, of one of the things that happened: each one heard them speaking in their own language, even though the large crowd was made up of people from all over the known world. In a sense, the presence of the Holy Spirit undoes Babel, all the divisions that we human beings put up among us. Those first disciples were Jews and, as such, thought they were the only chosen people. All through Acts of the Apostles we see how the Holy Spirit opened their minds to accept all people into the community.
One of the last prayers of Jesus before He went to His suffering and death was for unity, that all would be united, as Jesus is with His Father: That they may be one as we are one. We need to take up that call to bring people together as a crucial part of our living a life of Gospel values.
I don’t need to tell you that our country is being torn apart by divisions. Politicians are not able to speak with each other and compromise for the common good. Groups that are different are demonized and viewed as dangerous, leading to all sorts of senseless killing. And, sadly, some of this is done in the name of religion.
After His plea that all may be one, Jesus adds, that the world may believe that you sent me. Jesus knows it is hard for us, as human beings, to accept those who look or believe differently. But when we can do that, we are giving the Gospel witness that will bring people to Christ.
As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Spirit, let us remember that we are called to be one with others, no matter their physical or cultural differences. We cannot exclude others. We need to remember that only God has all the “inside” information, that is, knows what is in someone’s heart. I end with a quote from Pope Francis in his encyclical, Fratelli Tutti: Those who raise walls will end up as slaves within the very walls they have built. They are left without horizons, for they lack this interchange with others.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill us with the fire of Your love!
Church sign of the week: Feeling like an alien? We have a space for you.