The Holy Spirit gives us courage to speak the languages of welcome, respect, understanding and inclusion


The Holy Spirit gives us courage to speak the languages of welcome, respect, understanding and inclusion

Pentecost Sunday – May 19, 2024

It is concerning that religion is fuelling a lot of international disputes around the world: Hindu nationalism in India, Islam-Judaism conflict in the middle-east, Islam-Christian fighting in Nigeria and other countries in the world; Russian-Ukrainian Orthodox Churches, to name but a few.  Equally concerning is the determined attempts to kill the Christian Church in many of the Communist and other wealthy countries.  Atheism is also a ‘religion’ that believes in no God.

All these disputes point to a slow return to the pagan era of the Roman Empire where people were ruled by fear and power, if we are not careful.  Once the Church loses authority in society, we are left to the mercy of the Government.  It may be democratic at present, but we also know how easily Governments can manipulate the laws to give themselves more and more power.

In contrast to the disunity that is growing in the world St Paul, in the Second reading, teaches us that: “In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one Spirit was given to us all to drink.

There are also hopeful signs in our world: in England, for the first time in 10 years, a significant increase in adults chose to be received into the Catholic Church at Easter; the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are in dialogue to choose a common day for Easter.

There are also hopeful stories of Muslims receiving care and being ‘surprised’ by the kindness of Christians in Gaza/ Israel.  Language and words have the power to divide or unite.  And, there, actions are speaking louder than words to bring ‘understanding’ and respect.

As people leave organised religion, they often say “I’m spiritual”.  However, by being ‘just spiritual’ we divide ourselves by personal ideas instead of uniting ourselves by a common truth.

How can we promote unity in our world today?  By not losing hope: at the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles during a period of persecution and conflict.

Unity and peace is possible, because God still ‘walks’ with us today, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  But there is one key element that is important for us to understand, which is taught to us by the ascension of Jesus Christ.

To be united this side of the grave, requires peace to create the Kingdom of God here on earth.  Christ offers his apostles peace in the Gospel: but there can be no peace without forgiveness.

There is no place in Heaven (Kingdom of God) for bitterness or anger or revenge.  Jesus Christ could not have ascended into Heaven unless He had let go of all resentment, or anger due to the suffering and crucifixion he endured.  Not only by the Romans/ elders, but by the Apostles also.

Instead of righteous anger, Christ comes among the Apostles offering them peace. He did not have to say, “I forgive you,” his presence and peace spoke more loudly.  In the same way, we too can offer peace in order to bind our family or community together.

Every Baptised Christian has been given the Holy Spirit, which is confirmed and strengthened at Confirmation.  We have been empowered to make a greater difference: if we want to?
And the secret to moving forward is to forgive and involve people in our activities.

In our country of Kenya we still have problems of tribal rivalry and, unless we respect each other, we will continue to live with poverty, debt and violence.  Let us reflect deeply on what St Paul has said: we have been given one Spirit.

The Catholic Church promotes: unity in diversity.  When there is unity, there is less violence and more joy.  When there is unity, there will be less division between the rich and the poor.

There are four key words that help us achieve the unit that creates the peace we long for: welcome, respect, understanding and inclusion.  We can call these the languages that we have been empowered to ‘speak’ by the Holy Spirit.  The challenge and question is: will we?

Once, a lion caught a mouse and was about to kill it when the mouse begged for mercy.  The mouse promised to repay the lion’s kindness someday, and the lion, amused by the mouse’s audacity, decides to let it go.  Later on, the lion was caught in a hunter’s trap, and despite his strength and efforts, was unable to break free.  The mouse, remembering the lion’s mercy, came to his rescue and ate through the ropes to set him free. (Aesop’s Fables)

Perhaps the deeper question is: do we want to live in peace tomorrow?  Nothing in life is free: it is essential to do good, today, in order to create a good tomorrow.  May God give us a deep love for our children and family, so that we work hard to prepare them a beautiful ‘tomorrow’.

By Gerard Conlan, OMI