The Catholic Church was born on Pentecost. Although She existed in other forms since the beginning of time, the Church did not receive Her mission until the Holy Spirit came upon the first believers.
The community was able to hear and understand each other because they received the gift of tongues. We might be tempted to project a Hollywood interpretation of the dramatic scene. From the many languages present came understanding—the reason was the Holy Spirit, who empowered the Apostles to speak in the language of love. The listeners were able to see beyond the moving lips into the hearts. They could feel the passion of disciples totally in love with Jesus Christ. The folks knew that the Apostles were not out to hurt them, cheat them, lie to them. They knew that what they offered was a way to salvation. Unlike the deceitful preachers—who have always existed—the Apostles were not out for themselves. They were not the ones speaking. The Holy Spirit was speaking through them. We can usually tell when people are not telling the truth. In a world saturated with lies, we’ve devolved a callus ear. We’ve become skeptical of gifts too good to be true. The Apostles were offering something for nothing. God’s love is free, salvation is free, forgiveness is free. To this day the message of freedom is difficult to accept. We want to earn, to deserve, to merit our way to heaven. Can never happen. All the prayers, the sacrifices, the acts of charity are for us—to soften our heart—not to get God to love us because He already does. The number one truth of the Gospel—the Kerygma is that we are loved without conditions. That’s the message that the Apostles were preaching and everyone who heard them could understand. Love is the universal language.
Consider that even when we speak the same language we are often not listening to each other. “You didn’t say that! You never told me! Yes I did—you didn’t listen.” Distractions are abundant, especially if we are holding a cellphone in our hands. Truly some folks can multi-task. However, if we are speaking with someone, don’t they deserve our full attention? Isn’t the person in front of us more important than the cellphone? Our tendency is to take each other for granted. “He or she is not going anywhere. I’ll pay attention later.” A lost moment can never be recaptured. Many people missed out for not listening when Jesus was talking to them.
The Holy Spirit speaks through the Church, the Scriptures and through each of us. Just like with the first Apostles, we are sent. Usually we don’t have to go very far. Evangelization starts in our family—not so much by what we say—but how we treat each other. Living the Gospel is more powerful than talking about the Gospel. By putting up with each other at home we give testimony that the Holy Spirit is inside of us. The opposite can also happen. When we refuse to forgive, the times we do not want to see each other, making unfair accusations—then evil dominates our thoughts. Jesus had every right to demand an explanation of those who had abandoned Him. But He didn’t ask any questions. “Peace be with you”, He said. The Lord gives us His peace, especially when we are in trouble. There is no problem too big for the Holy Spirit. All that we have to do is to trust in God’s power, not our strength. The gifts are for us to use, for us to share. The greatest gift we have is peace, manifested in the Eucharist. The Lord penetrates the locked doors of our fears and touches us with His healing. There is nothing to fear.
Knowing that we are weak, that we will continue to mess up, that we are sinners—the Lord chooses us. He have gives all that we need to be His disciples.