Today the church celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles in the image of tongues of fire and thus began the mission of the Church in the world. As we celebrate the solemnity of Pentecost, let us linger awhile on the action of the Holy Spirit in the Christian community and our organization. We speak of Pentecost as “the birthday of the Church”. The earliest disciples, who had encountered Jesus during his time on earth, had sufficient teachings and instructions to continue His mission on earth. But they lacked the Spirit. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, they had the confidence and courage to proclaim Jesus and His message. The Church was indeed born.
St. Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202 AD) uses a fine image in speaking about the formation of the Church: “Like dry flour, which cannot become one lump of dough, one loaf of bread, without moisture, we who are many could not become one in Christ Jesus without the water that comes down from heaven.” What water might that be? Irenaeus goes on to say, “Through the baptism that liberates us from change and decay, we have become one in body; through the Spirit, we have become one in soul.”
Brother Knights, let us hold these images close to our hearts. Jesus prayed that we may all be One in Him. This unity with the Risen Lord is our source of hope as we continue to face the challenges of the pandemic. We likewise receive hope through the solidarities of our councils. The differences of language and culture that distinguished Christian communities in the early Church did not keep them apart. We see in contemporary society (and sadly, in the Church in some quarters) unsettling cracks that arise from ideologies and alliances. “I’m for Paul.” “I’m for Apollos.” (1 Cor. 3:4) And who is for Christ? Only those who are imbued with the true Spirit of Jesus Himself.
During these days of Pentecost, let us be of one mind and one heart. There is but one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. (Ephesians 4:5)
May the Holy Spirit be our strength and guide. Happy Feast day to you all!
Fr. Alex Osei, C.S.Sp