By Paul Ashton, Psy.D., D.Min.
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs
Pentecost celebrates our birth as a Church. It is a time when we recall the darkness only briefly, more so celebrating the power of the Holy Spirit moving within us and propelling us to persons, places, and things that we never thought imaginable.
Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Mark 16: 15
When we look at the darker moments of our lives we often see the many opportunities of light that we overlooked. Walking through the darkness is scary, and being in survival mode carries with it feelings that we are not ordinarily familiar with or operate from. Fear can paralyze us—we hold our breath, we close our eyes, and we cover our faces in an instinctive gesture of survival.
Living through any sadness or trauma is best appreciated from a distance. The horrors of physical pain that accompany the mental and emotional anguish are often too overwhelming for us to bear. It is only through the gentle and consistent care, comfort, and love from others that we are able to breathe, open our eyes, and move forward to the light.
Can you imagine the fear that Mary and the Apostles felt in that upper room as they prayed and waited? Can you imagine the great relief they experienced as they felt the power of the Holy Spirit descend upon them in that great wind and as tongues of fire? The powerful images of the wind clearing the air and refreshing them, and the fire burning away all doubt—illuminating their hearts and minds to the point where they spoke the mysteries of their faith in ways all could understand—are miraculous. The fire led them out of their darkness and hiding into the world where they converted the hearts of many others. Their fears ceased, and they were commissioned with the power of God’s loving spirit.
Pentecost celebrates our birth as a Church. It is a time when we recall the darkness only briefly, more so celebrating the power of the Holy Spirit moving within us and propelling us to persons, places, and things that we never thought imaginable. It is a time when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus fully, bringing the meaning of his suffering and death to the hearts of those who do not believe or who remain in the darkness. We know better than to remain in the sorrow and in the fears that the darkness brings. We bring light to those who most fear accepting it.
All of this is not to say that we will be exempt from darker periods as we move through our lives. The beauty of the gift of Pentecost is that those to whom we have previously brought light somehow manage to return it to us when we most need it and least expect it. The gift of Pentecost is that the greatest gifts of our Church are multiplied over and over again by each person who is touched by the fire of the love of God through His Holy Spirit.
The great commission of Jesus Christ, as seen in the scriptural passage from Saint Mark above, is to bring the message of Jesus to every person we encounter. Teaching and showing the heart of Jesus to others instills in them the ability to carry forth and move beyond their own dark periods long after we have encountered them. In bringing Jesus to others, we bring the message and the full meaning of Love.
Like a single candle in a room of darkness, love fills every corner. Pentecost is cause for the great celebration of Jesus and His powerful love for each of us. What greater gift could we ask for than to be in the presence of others—friends, family, and strangers—those who are constant reminders of all that love means in a world that is often dark and scary?
May we, in our common striving to bring Jesus to others, enjoy many glimpses of His love during our life’s journey. May we bring Jesus’ light to the darkness, and when we falter, may others bring His light to us!