Standing In Our Midst | Friar Reflections | Pentecost

Saints of God, the Lord be with you!

On the evening of the first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear…” this is the opening phrase of today’s Gospel according to St. John. In John’s Gospel, the Ascension and Pentecost happen on Easter Sunday. (In Luke these feasts are spread out over time; forty days after Easter for the Ascension, and another ten days for Pentecost.) I’ve always liked the Lukan chronology, since it gives us the gift of time to better ponder the fulness of the Easter mystery: the bodily resurrection of Jesus, his return to the Father in heaven (taking his now glorified body and human nature with him), and his sending the Holy Spirit to abide forever with us, the Church.)

But this year, it’s that first line in the Gospel that captured my heart. “On the evening of the first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear…” The disciples at that point were afraid that they too would be handed over to the Romans by the Jews. I hope none of us in today’s world are afraid of the Jews, since we would then be afraid of Jesus who was, is and always will be Jewish. But all of us have locked places in our hearts. All of us have a fear of someone or something. Today’s Gospel is an invitation for us to name that which causes us fear and then to trust that the risen Christ is already there, standing in our midst and saying to us, “Peace be with you.” Peace, the Shalom of God, which is the promise of right relationship with not only God, not only with our neighbors and creation, but right and healed relationship with ourselves.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ’s Peace, Healing, and Forgiveness. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate, not only with God, but sometimes we need an advocate on behalf of those wounded parts of us that we long to be healed, restored, forgiven. God is quick to forgive.

Our friends and neighbors, those we have hurt, might forgive in time and up to a point. I find that too often we can’t forgive ourselves. We don’t think we can or ought to open those memories of the hurt we have caused others; we think if we pretend to forget, then those words or actions, those things that “I have done or have failed to do” have no real hold on us. But we are wrong; those are the locked doors behind which is not condemnation, but the Holy Spirit of Christ’s forgiveness.

Today, on this wonderful expression of Easter, the gifting of the Holy Spirit to a wounded and too often wounding Church, let us remember that the Healing Spirit is given to us who not because we have somehow earned the gift, but because in our pain we need the gift. Today, let us celebrate the giving of the Holy Spirit by living not in fear but in faith. “The antidote to fear is Faith, and the fruit of faith is Charity.”

-Fr. Steve