The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
Throughout the season of Easter, we have been focusing on Christ restoring to us the fullness of life. Nonetheless, that initial burst of Easter joy has subsided. We may find we have returned to our usual selves.
As we prepare for Pentecost, perhaps we are not expecting much. It is the birthday of the church, but we really are not that excited about the party. We might wear red. Our parish church may also be dressed in red with flames of fire or with a white dove evident. However, most of us are probably not expecting tongues of fire dropping from the ceiling or strong winds rushing through the sanctuary. Our worship is fairly predictable, confined by time, space and custom. We are not expecting that the liturgy of Pentecost will turn our world upside down.
The Gospel, however, boldly asserts that, for the apostles, their world was turned upside down. On that first Pentecost, they were changed in a way they never could have expected. Once-timid men, they now were filled with the very faith and courage of Christ their Savior. They went out and boldly preached the message of the Gospel.
The liturgy of Pentecost reaches out to us in our day and time, challenging us to also experience God in new ways. God wants to transform us. God wants us to lean into the Holy Spirit, to boldly live our faith with pride and to be invoked in the work of the church. That is the message of Pentecost.
This year, come to Mass expecting great things. Ask God to surprise you. Be aware of words, in the Mass, in the hymns, in the homily, that hold the potential to open the door of your heart to new ways of encountering the Holy Spirit. Take some quiet time on Pentecost to reflect on the graces poured forth from the Holy Spirit as gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. Think also about the gifts (the fruits) of the Spirit that St. Paul makes reference to: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Consider how you are using, or neglecting, these gifts in your life.
On the first Pentecost, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the people gathered in the Upper Room began a spiritual revolution that continues to change the world. Let us courageously join the revolution. It may begin by wearing something red to Mass on Pentecost, and grow into sharing our faith and giving generously of our time, abilities and our resources to build up the kingdom of God among all people.
May we experience the breath of the Spirit blowing upon us, transforming us as individual people and as a parish community. May the winds of the Spirit be at our back, sustaining iu as we go forth to preach the good news. This Pentecost, let us turn the world upside down for Christ.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.