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Friday, 26 May 2023 17:38

Pentecost - 2023

Bill Burt 150On the Mount of Olives, just outside of Jerusalem, there is a small mosque. In the centre of this Muslim house of prayer is a flat rock a metre or so in diameter. In the centre of this rock are two foot-shaped indentations. According to a local tradition, these are the footprints that Jesus left when he went to heaven on Ascension Day. Visitors are invited to pay US$5 for permission to stand on these possible footprints.

Pentecost Holy Spirit Shutterstock TwitterOf course, there’s no way of knowing if there’s any truth in this tradition! But it’s a nice story and it gives tourists and pilgrims something to put on Facebook. What is definitely true, however, is that what was commemorated last week on Ascension Day really did happen: Jesus, who had risen from the dead and had been mixing with his loved ones for about 40 days, left them, never to be seen by them again. Exactly how he left them is a mystery.

Before he left them, he said something amazing to them. And what he said has reverberated throughout the centuries. He said that he wouldn’t leave his loved ones like orphans. But more than that he said that they would receive immense power. He described this power as being the GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. And today, PENTECOST SUNDAY, we celebrate the empowering of Jesus’ loved ones when they received that unheard of GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

It would seem that suddenly their fears and worries just disappeared. They became emboldened to go out to the ends of their known world to tell people the good news of Jesus. They told people that they didn’t need to live in fear. They were not alone, and would never be like orphans. Why? Because they could be empowered by the Holy Spirit to face all adversities.

Because those first followers of Jesus experienced Pentecost and then went out boldly sharing the good news, and then their followers did the same, and others did so for the past 2000 years, we are celebrating Pentecost Sunday in our communities in 2023. What an amazing inheritance we have received from our spiritual ancestors!

Let’s carry on the missionary tradition of our Church. Words aren’t always the best way of preaching the good news of Jesus: Remember the teaching of St Francis of Assisi: “We must preach the Gospel of Jesus 24 hours a day, and sometimes it’s appropriate to use words.”

Let’s cooperate with the empowering Holy Spirit, sharing the joy that we experience knowing that Jesus is with us, with all whom we meet.