May 31, 2020 – Pentecost Sunday
Click here for the readings (http://cms.usccb.org/bible/readings/053120-day.cfm)
Corrie ten Boom, a Nazi concentration camp Christian survivor of the Holocaust once said, “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. If you look at God, you’ll be at rest”.
Though her words was spoken of World War II’s genocide of European Jews, somehow these words also describe our present reality in today’s pandemic world. When we come to think of it, distressing it is to find that our world we live in now is sick, infected and under serious death-threat. Worse, as we try to cope with its daily challenges, and as our leaders are doing what they can to protect us from this threat, there are still quite a number of people who are in denial, resorts to blame game and even do stupid acts at the expense of and putting others’ health in jeopardy.
Also, not only mental health problems and concerns are of rise nowadays, depressing it is to find ourselves isolated, limited and quarantined. In the midst of our challenging reality, we do find ourselves stressed, restless, and helpless. From our perspective, distressing and depressing our life these days is and can be. However, as Corrie suggests, if when we go beyond our perspective & try to see it with God’s perspective, we will find consolation and meaning in what is happening in our lives and what we are going through now. Thus, “if you look at God, you’ll be at rest.”
As our risen Lord made himself known to them in our gospel, Jesus gave His disciples three gifts. First, the gift of Peace: “Peace be with you” – as healing consolation for their troubled and anxious heart during difficult times. Then, the gift of mission “I send you” – as direction and mandate to be His living witnesses in present the world. And above all, the gift of the Holy Spirit: “Receive the Holy Spirit” – as power, courage and guide to respond to the challenges of faith and life ahead. Peace, Mission & Holy Spirit are our risen Lord’s gifts he left behind for His disciples then & for us now His church, as necessary components to live out and practice our faith in our very lives as His living witnesses to the world today. And behind these gifts is the call to “Look at God”, that is, the challenge to go beyond ourselves, rise above the occasion, and be inspired.
Meaning, “Looking at God” invites us to go beyond our views of things and discern God’s plan and will for our “is and can-be” distressing and depressing life. “Looking at God” provides us also with identity, meaning & authority to fulfill our very mission and tasks in this life – thus, rising for the occasion to share our unique gift we can offer in this life. And “Looking at God” is to be IN God’s spirit – to be in one spirit, mind and will with God, whenever, whatever, however, wherever life has in store for us.
Moreover, we look at God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our first reading reminds us that on the day of Pentecost, as they receive the Lord’s gift of Holy Spirit, the frightened disciples of crucified Christ is now transformed into brave heralds of God’s mighty works. As St. Paul insisted, only inspired and empowered people who look at God can say and can go out and proclaim: “Jesus is Lord”. Jesus thus moves us to look at God and inspire us to be His living faithful and practicing followers. Interestingly, somehow nowadays many so-called “non-practicing Catholics” have updated their status into “practicing Catholics again” – even without (or with limited) avenue for public worship, not only as a reaction to the challenges of our trying times but more so because they “look at God in Jesus” again and anew for consolation, direction & inspiration in their own very lives.Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, which marks the birthday of the Holy Church, and the end of Easter Season for this year. Beyond the distressing and depressing challenges of our life ahead this time, may we be reminded that we are (& our church is) an inspired Church continually looking at God through our risen Lord Jesus. With our risen Lord, may we go beyond our present predicament, rise for the occasion to be His living witnesses, and always be inspired to share our gifts and proclaim Jesus to our world today. Amen.
(By: Fr. Aphelie Mario Masangcay CSsR, a Filipino Redemptorist Missionary stationed in Gwangju South Korea, though now still stranded in Cebu until further notice for available flights.)