Pandemic, Test and Trace, Furloughing, Social Distancing, Lockdown, R-numbers, Modelling, Covid 19,
We quickly develop new patterns of vocabulary and expressions to cover new situations and crises. The coronavirus pandemic is certainly no exception to this rule. Lots of the above words and phrases would simply not be grasped or understood if we had heard them just a few months ago. One of the words which is very much to the fore in these days is “lockdown”. It’s easy enough to comprehend its meaning but maybe a lot more difficult to deal with personally, both in its imposition and in carefully and gradually emerging from that situation.
For us, though, the word “lockdown” can surely also be used in relation to where the first Christian communities found themselves following the death of Jesus,. They indeed had locked down together in their fear of the consequences of being discovered. They initially lacked the necessary courage and power of witness to transmit the message of new life which the Spirit of God brings.
The feast of Pentecost binds together for us Easter Day and Pentecost Day, initially through the locked doors and the closing in of the disciples. It goes from that lockdown situation to bring before us such a profound change in all of those disciples. They are made able, with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to communicate with people from “every nation under heaven”. The combining of these events shows us that it is from the whole of the Easter mystery that the Church is called into life, vitality and mission.
The language, of course, which they were called to master is the language of the Spirit. And to be fluent in that tongue is to submit your life to the way of the Spirit. This, surely is what those first disciples were able to do so that their message was able to triumph.
What they brought to the world through their deepest and innermost communication was the truth that “Jesus is Lord”, the Lord of their lives. Jesus is Lord was ultimately what their lives proclaimed. It was the sign that they had opened their lives to the power of the resurrection.
In life, we may do a lot of talking. However, we also communicate constantly at a level which is much deeper than words. It is at this level where the truth or otherwise of our spoken words come through. While we listen to what people say to us, we know that there is more than just the verbal aspect. There is the language of the heart. The heart reads the heart and the spirit recognizes itself wherever it sees itself as manifest. In our relationship to God, this level should be reflective of our lives being under the influence of the Holy Spirit, as Paul puts it in our second reading. That language of the Spirit has to take full hold of our way of living, Thus charity, joy, peace, patience, goodness, longsuffering, fidelity, gentleness, and chastity will be the true hallmarks of our lives.
Today is the feast of the sending of the Holy Spirit. It represents then much more than some sort of static remembrance of the third person of the Holy Trinity. It is dynamic and active. It is continuing today in the Church. It is to be lived by the Church, the Body of Christ in every time and situation. It is to be proclaimed by us even in this time of pandemic and pain.
The Spirit can never be locked down and we are never in lockdown in relation to the gifts of the Spirit given to us. They are to be seen in us, lived by us, in these days too. Let us implore our God to help us to treasure the precious gifts he has given to his children. Let us ask him to bring us to say “Jesus is Lord” in every aspect of our lives and through every situation we have to face.
31st May 2020.