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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories - We are Church: Spirit and Gifts

For more than a year now, our world has faced the challenge of a global pandemic. Covid-19 and its variants has brought a host of threats to human health and life. It has marked us with fear and anxiety. It has brought uncertainty into the whole global community and has led to disruptions in our lives and livelihoods along with our family and community life. The threat to our physical health has also affected our spiritual, social psychological health. We have been wounded in body and spirit of these months.

The rapid development and delivery of vaccines has been a welcome turn of events for us. Not only have they offered a response to the virus, they have also proved to be a light at the end of tunnel. They offer us hope in the midst of darkness. There are many challenges still before our world. At this time the virus continues to be among us. Restrictions remain so that its spread can be slowed or limited. There are limitations in availability of the vaccines. Delivery and vaccinations seem slow. There are some who are reluctant to receive vaccination, either from fear or because of denial. But we cannot lose hope. What we need is “spirit”, “heart”, the drive to use our human gifts and talents given us by God for the good of one another – the common good.

Those disciples who gathered after the crucifixion faced this reality. They had walked and talked with Jesus. They had heard his message. They had seen his actions. They had been his friends and followers. Now they lost heart. They were dogged by a “defeated spirit.” But the appearances of the risen Jesus, like the one we see in John’s Gospel (John 20:19-23) on this Pentecost Sunday draws them back to the power and hope of the Spirit that gives them heart and brings them to a place of peace.

This Spirit, that was to remain with the disciples is the one that Paul refers to in his letter to the Christians in Corinth (1Cor.12:3-7) – Now there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit. Filled with this Spirit, the disciples went forth and began to change the world with the message of peace and the mission that they had received.

The Spirit poured out upon the disciples on that first Pentecost gave them new gifts which brought new life, new heart to the variety of their own personal talents and abilities. They became a community filled with energy and drive for the message and the mission. The outpouring of the Spirit inspires believers and missionaries of the message of Jesus. We are a community focused on hearing the message anew and taking it out to the ends of the earth.

This is what it means to be CHURCH. We are a Spirit-filled community of disciples of Jesus. On this Feast of Pentecost, we celebrate the Spirit that we have been given. With this Spirit the variety of gifts that we possess can bring new heart to a world seeking hope and promise and a sense of new life.

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