Saturday, May 14, 2016


Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.  Acts 2:3-4

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  John 20:19-21

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17

While the disciples were with the community, the Holy Spirit of the Lord descended upon them. They were no longer scattered around Palestine individually.   They were together in the upper room when they heard, saw and felt decent of the Holy Spirit. 

Ours is a communal faith that extracts a cost and the cost is our individuality.  We can practice solitary prayer. However, the highest form of prayer – the Mass – is meant for community.  We cannot act without solidarity – solidarity with our community, solidarity with the poor, and solidarity with the Lord.

Consider every mystery of our shared faith.  Not a single one happens in isolation.  Christianity may be a comfort if we are stranded on a desert island or locked away in a prison.  Yet it is not fully practiced in such isolation. Even in prison, our brothers and sisters bring the Lord inside through Kairos.

  • The Incarnation would not have happened if Mary and Joseph did not get the message after an encounter WITH an angel. 
  • Once aware of her Immaculate Conception, Mary set out to visit and spend time WITH her cousin Elizabeth – a cousin who was amazed the mother of the Lord would spend time WITH her!  Even the unborn tumbled for joy in unison.
  • Although the crib was in a cave, the Christmas story is a shared story of not just the Holy Family but also of the angels, shepherds, and magi who came to be WITH them – just like Emmanuel – God be with us.
  • The new parents presented their son in the temple WITH Simeon and Anna.
  • Some years later, the son stayed behind preaching in his father’s house WITH the teachers in the temple while the parents went looking for him.
  • Jesus was WITH his cousin John when his baptism propelled him on the path to Calvary.
  • A small boy shared his loaves and fishes WITH the community so that Jesus could bless and multiply them in a precursor to the Eucharistic banquet.  This was a Table of Plenty, not a table of one little boy.  
  • Preaching with thousands on the side of a mountain, Jesus delivered the Beatitudes of how everyone is blessed WITH gifts.
  • Jesus was WITH Peter, James and John when the Transfiguration happened and Moses appeared WITH Elijah.  With the Father and the spirit, the Trinity appeared with each other.
  • Eucharist was the ultimate sacrifice of the individual shared and repeated WITH the community.
Continue reflecting on the Sorrowful Mysteries and the Glorious Mysteries and find one – anyone – which is done in isolation.  Even if you might say praying in the Garden, Jesus was WITH his disciples who could not stay awake with him.  Try another one? 

Christianity joins us together with the Lord (Father, Son, and Spirit) and with each other.  The Spirit bears WITH-ness in the final act of our initiation as confirmed members of the community.

This sense of “with-ness” – or partnership or relationship with Jesus -- is not the end of the story.  The end of the story is what we write with our action.  The symbolic Pentecostal flames are here to light our path on the way to peace not to keep us warm and comfortable in the Upper Room. 

"That is why I will send to you what God promised. Remain in the city until you are clothed with power from above. Then you are to be my witnesses beginning from Jerusalem, going to Galilee, even to the ends of the Earth, you are to be my witnesses."

Pope Brings Home Refugee Families From
Greek Island (
Thank about how perfectly Pope Francis reflects this sense of “with-ness” with his action.  Just a few weeks ago, in the midst of the busy Easter season, he went to the Greek island of Lesbos to support the war refugees.  An NCR column by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton describes what happened next:  “[Pope Francis] brings 12 families back to Rome. He's showing us that you must take in those who are in need of a home, who are in need of food and care, who need a way of life. And he arranged with a parish community in Rome, the community of Sant'Egidio to take care of these families, to find them jobs, to find them places to live.”[i]

Pope Francis sits next to Imam Tidiani Moussa Naibi during a
Nov. 30 meeting with the Muslim community
at the Koudoukou mosque in Bangui, Central
African Republic. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Yet that is not all.  Pope Francis also set out for the Central African Republic.  While there, Bishop Gumbleton writes: “He traveled to [a] mosque in this war-torn country to visit with an imam, to try to work out a way to reconcile, to end the violence between Christians and Muslims, through dialogue, through conversation, through trying to reach out to one another.”[ii] 

Pope Francis shows that our faith must move from the Seminary to the Sanctuary and then from the Sanctuary to the Streets. 

Where is your initiation taking/sending you?  What is it calling you to do?

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