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Loaves

The Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. But these are far from ordinary times. Suffering underscores even the triumphs of the spirit like the empty stadium seats surround the Olympic athletes. And there are the very simple needs to take care of everyday: physical, mental, emotional in a world chirping with change. Still there is an inherent beauty in the most simple aspects of life: the rich plopping of raindrops on windshields, listening as a choice of kindness, gentleness in interaction with self and others. The miracle of the loaves and fishes in today’s Gospel acknowledges both the challenge of suffering and then possibilities and the importance of re-emerging in each generation, every stage of life.

The latter is visible in connecting with the first reading. Ezekiel captures the story of the manna in the desert. The Israelites at a loss, and the manna appearing to sustain and fortify. It is from a gentle, compassionate God looking at a people struggling through the desert. And centuries later, there is the Gospel account of Jesus looking out at a crowd on a very different type of journey. Gathering to hear Him speak, they are tired and hungry. He sees what is real in them, the basic needs in a very different setting. Interestingly, He inquires first of the apostles about how to manage this moment. They are perplexed by the numbers of people, the practical costs of feeding a crowd. It is a child who comes to the fore, a child as the sign of Hope, of a new generation and possibility. Five loaves and fishes. Baskets to share. A miracle unanticipated but invested in the wealth of fragile humans who were unaware of what could happen, did happen. Into the desert of human need comes the generosity of creation…and so the baskets are filled with remnants of a meal savored and enjoyed. And once again a gentle and compassionate God tenderly holds people close and empowers a moment that is more than what is even imaginable for people. It is not grandiose in either instance; it is simply food, a necessary nurturing. But it speaks of the even more critical and essential human need: love. The truth of that is incredibly easy to miss but both stories echo the human need to be loved and then to love in turn and carry it all forward.

There is the not-so-very secret. As persons, we stand at the gathering place too. And just as Teresa of Avila spoke of being the Hands and Heart of Christ, there is an adjacent reality: we can choose to be less. We can inflict damage and pain and allow ourselves to hurt, humiliate and destroy others. Or we can choose the kindness and gentleness of a compassionate God. The harshness of life is undeniable; the journey seems impossibly challenging at so many points. In those moments of hunger for a release from the grief and challenges, there is opportunity to share manna, to know the taste of the loaves, to take the leap towards trust and put others in front of self and really share the journey.

Companions

The pen was about the size of a small playground. That’s because it was actually a play yard, and it was adjacent to a pre-school. Half a dozen sheep lounged there, soft and cuddly white wool, rich dark eyes and a quiet malaise near melancholy as they chomped on the grass. They were temporary residents, and I had a perch on the fence to observe their goings on and occasionally refill the water trough. I was simply watching their world, not part of it, and wondering a thousand things about how the natural and human worlds are intertwined, how connections are formed between and among us, and how choices are made from the most mundane (what to eat and when) to the most complicated (what to do with the time and the lives we have). Into that reverie, unfolding a story, were the sheep who simply seemed to exist, to satisfy their needs and to get along with one another in a way that was neither competitive nor denying of each other. Enter the readings for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is all about the Good Shepherd. But this time, when I looked more closely, something else stood out. In this liminal space of life, this is really all about connections and perceptions, trust and confidence in one another, a sense of belonging, and the hope that enables survival in a world and life that offers both joys and suffering.

Each reading offers a different dimension of that theme. The first displays the presence of a gentle caring God calling us to be conscious of one another, aware of Him. The second gives the cozy comfort of Psalm 23, a God who truly loves and a people who are fully confident in His love and protection throughout the challenges of life. There is a tenor to the lines that confides the emotional roller coaster that life can be, the traumas that life can present. And there is the steadiness of a tone of survival, even of becoming, as the challenges are navigated one by one.

He guides me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
    I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff that give me courage….

Only goodness and kindness follow me
    all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
    for years to come.  

The second reading is a reassurance of all that, that Jesus himself is the live wire connection among us. Finally, there is the Gospel that clearly defines Jesus’ mission and relationship to people: he is the caretaker, the teacher, the empathetic and compassionate one. He mentors, connects, challenges and explores with the sheep. There is a kindness undergirding it all, the sense that each of us is more than our flaws, more than our grief and better than our limitations.

Remembering those moments perched on the fence above the pen, the questions that surfaced and the ease with which the sheep adjusted to the play yard, reminds me that life is both mysterious and memorable, but having that trust in and companionship of a Shepherd makes all the difference.

Choosing

This week, in four days, two memorials and a funeral. The pandemic conspired to make it all possible, but there is still an unavoidable sense of loss, the kind of loss that needs to be named and known, suffered and then moved past, always with full acknowledgement. And so it is with life, with relationships and friendships, careers and choices: moments of joy and moments of loss juxtaposed, explored, exited. What matters is the dash between the dates on a tombstone, and how we live out the circumstances we confront. Essentially, that makes the Gospel for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time even more meaningful. It is a quintessential message that applies to so much in life. The words are often quoted and are simple and direct:

“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. 
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”

Life affords thousands of scenarios where the words are relevant. They hint at a clarity of understanding, a keen awareness of what is happening in exchanges and interactions, an understanding of truths, a commitment to honesty and a willingness to make choices. Jesus sent the apostles out on a mission, but even he realized the capricious nature of human beings, the way we respond to situations and information, and what we choose to accept and reject. What is most significant there is that sense of acceptance of who humans are. And so we are invited to be deeply conscious of one another, keenly attentive to what is really happening in each situation encountered. In a sense, it is easy to live in a cocoon insulated from the realities of our strengths and weaknesses and those of others as well. This invites humans to real consciousness of one another.

Behind all that are the building blocks of lifelong, healthy relationships: truth, honesty and love. These companions first challenge the individual personally and then allow attentiveness to relationship, sometimes even partnerships or coupling. Each occurs in the context of clear communication, an openness that finds spark and energy in confidences and observations, the exhange of the mundane and the sharing of tragedies and upheavals, disruptions and joys. To share truth means knowing self and daring to assess reality, to name and tame what is happening and to clearly articulate thoughts and ideas. Honesty demands seeing past illusions and perceptions to the core values that motivate and animate human behavior. It allows for the pain that could inflict and for the expansion of understanding. It is fearless and hope-filled, non-judgemental, and it generates light. Love breaths life into acceptance and understanding of one another. It is the strength to hear what hurts, acknowledge what could change and fully participate in re-designing new spaces in the world. Love does not give up whan the obstacles and road bumps appear; with truth and honesty, love enables the articulation of something new, strong and dynamic.

On the other hand, there is the second choice: recognizing that nothing can happen in a place and literally shaking the dust from your feet. Here, too truth, honesty and love come in handy. Truth means facing what is going on, no matter what it is. Honesty means viewing human responsibility, personal perspectives and others’ responsibilities clearly and purposefully. Love here means doing the right thing, choosing the best option for self and others. Love puts the truth and honesty into action.

The Gospels were written milleniums ago, but humans were no less and no more than what we are today. There were challenges and issues, differences and suffering, caring and cost. The idea of choice about what to do and how to do it was as much a gift then as it is now.

 

Home

Morning sun filters through the humidity. Congregants slip from their vehicles into the cool darkness of the parish church. Eight am, and the few gather in quiet. The Gospel is about Jesus seated with the sinners and berated by the righteous. And there lies the truth of who we are: the presence of God neither abandons nor condemns. People do that to one another, but that Gospel clearly indicates that God’s ways are not our ways. And this Sunday inscribes that lesson with a tenacious alacrity.

It is easy to subscribe to a world of black and white where clarity dwells with one side or the other. It is more challenging to realize that human life belongs to gradients, shades of color, that both shape our lives and decisions and enable us to become whole persons, alive to the wonders and intricacies of the universe. The readings for this week suggest that simply being mindful of rules and subject to norms does not necessarily generate either wholeness or holiness. Instead, it is all about personal relationships and attentiveness to the presence of God in the world, in our lives, and the human capcacity to see that and to accurately perceive who we are as individuals.

Truth and honesty are the key elements in a relationship of love. And in the first reading, from the prophet Ezekiel that is made most clear:

As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me
    and set me on my feet,
    and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:
    Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites

In simplicity, Ezekiel acknowledges the movement of the Spirit and the urging of conscience, thinking outside the box. But that is followed by the Responsorial Psalm, Psalm 123, which echoes one of the intimacies of human relationship: fixing our eyes on another. But it is in the stirring words from Paul’s letter to the Romans that the honesty and interdependence relationships generate:

“My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.” 
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

There are the echoes of being able to manage in life because of that personal relationship with a God who is completely Other, unlimited by human finiteness or infirmities, callusness or cruelties. This is a God who dares to go far beyond human understandings. And so it is in the Gospel. Jesus is present to the people, but somehow they dare not enter into a connection or a relationship. In full understanding, he moves on. There is no retribution, no cruelty or rejection, just the sense that human limitations actually prohibited a full experience of who Jesus was and what He could do.

Thousands of years later, we wrestle daily with so many of the same things. We negate the possibilities of a Universe bursting with the miracles of life. We adhere to judgemental and costly discriminations; we chose bitter cruelty in communications and attempt to destroy persons in the name of fairness. But here, in these readings, lingers a message far more meaningful. There is no room for malicious actions against one another. There is no place for conspiracies of cruelty or bitter retributions, vengeful purposes. Instead, there is a harbor for the suffering, for those broken by circumstance or even by loved ones. It is not a home built by rules and laws, but one framed by the laws of love founded in truth and honesty where unconditionality is alive and well, where reality has merit and actions have kind purpose and healing is more than a hope.

Conduits

There is a sweetness that flows from divine love animating the lives and purposes of individuals. It is brilliantly displayed in the eyes and hands, the presence and actions of some of us. Genuine, sincere, they do the small things that make a big difference in the lives of others: the driver who notices a shivering gas station attendant in the winter and pulls around with a cup of coffee; the cashier who carefully divides an elderly customer’s order into manageable bags; the man who takes the time to escort a fearful friend to a clinic. In each one, there is a measure of wholeness being imparted to someone who needs it. Each shows a consciousness, an attentiveness and awareness of others. Each is an action illuminated by realistically viewing the other person, the situation and the way of gently moving forward. None of it is entangled with rules and regulations, commands or expectations.

This week, the first reading captures the source for that from the Book of Wisdom:

“God did not make death,
    nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
For he fashioned all things that they might have being;
    and the creatures of the world are wholesome…

Humanity has been shaped with a natural goodness, an affinity for others, a desire for wholeness. In startling recognition of human suffering and brokenness, there is the blanket of healing and the offers of hope. Even in the darkest hours, there is Jesus, person to person, touching lives and making seemingly awful situations so much better. Animated by love, Jesus touches and heals over and over again in the Gospel of Mark. Each instance is marked by intimacy: there is conversation with Jesus, touching his clothes. And there is the startling impact of real presence. In so many ways, Christians are called to the attentiveness that transcends perceptions of difference, discrimination and judgement of each other. The strength of who we are is not defined by the rules we follow or by the beliefs expoused. Instead, who we are is defined by the relations and interactions with others that are animated by love, generosity and kindness. Goodness flows from heart and spirit and brings more goodness.

Maybe the fundamental factor is that human beings are made wholesome. Believing that, knowing that, mitigates diminished self-worth, self-doubt, self-blame and a distorted sense of responsibility. It enables a consciouness of reality, of the ability to read circumstances and make critical choices in a full context. It is no different than the woman afflicted by the hemmorage that sought the edge of Jesus’ cloak and was healed. He speaks to her of faith and peace, giving a gift of calm after the tumultous seas of her search for healing. There is a practical realism to each instance of healing, and the source is in the connection with other.

In this noisy world, we are the conduits of that miraculous connection; we make things happen for and with each other. We have the capacity to practice that attentive openness, to be the healing hands for each other. We were not made to be perfect, but to be wholesome. Hope resides in the reality that we are in this human life together, and we have been gifted the chance, the opportunity, to make this life better for one another one interaction at a time.

Stormy seas

Love has a wonder, strength and storminess all its own. Doubts and fears are juxtaposed with exhiliration , enchantment and fantasies. Beyond that, love has roots and stature, gentleness and understanding; in its purest form, love is unconditional, not predicated on gratification or self-fulfillment. Unconditional love dances with the divine and manifests itself in the ordinary. It is sourced in the mystical presence of God. And the Scripture passages for this week open that promise to scrutiny.

In the first reading, Job is caught in the storm, and the Lord lays that fury to rest. But there is the second story, in the Gospel of Mark, and it is Jesus this time who slays the storm.

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

In both passages, and in the Responsorial Psalm, there is relief and gratitude in the resolution of the storms. Each is a demonstration of the wild circumstances that engulf human lives everyday. Each is a testimpny that to lay down the anxiety and step away from the fears that are so much a part of human experience is possible. Both passages intimate the profound sense of transition that occurs as storms develop and disappear. Powerful and pounding, they are temporary. But there is permanence in the immutable, in the divine. And in both cases, that bond of protection is firm in the reality of unconditional love and acceptance.

Our world, our lives, are not a judgement-free zones. There are wildly impossible expectations that we hold ourselves and others to, standards that represent the ideals and tangle relentlessly with the real. But these passages suggest the frailty of our humanity is recognizable, and understood, forgiven and cared for. The God who loves us gives gentle supports in the lives and love of family and friends, partners and strangers. There are tools to be reached for, moments to be shared, revelations to be had and insights to be gained from the very process of living. In a sense, it is all about the perception, the interpretation of what is happening as the storms about us rage. The truth is that we are never really alone. In the throes of transition or the hurricanes of hubris, tsunamis of sorrow, there is acquital granted by this unconditional love. And here, while we exist within broader systems and rules, the single most important thing is this remarkable relationship of unconditional love. It enables all the rest to make sense.

Transition

Mourning. Morning. One letter makes all the difference, weights the wonder of a word, plumbs a depth of being, dances with understanding. Morning. Mourning. Each sculpts the rawness of endings and new beginnings; both invite the interface of the physical and emotional, the personal and communal, the cherished and the yet-to-be-discovered. Each offers imagery, yet both are about transition. And so it is in this Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time: imagery and transition. As Catholics, as humans, we live in the shadows of what was and the dawn of what can be.

The Old Testament reading from Ezekiel and the Gospel from Mark linger with that sense of “morning”, vivid stories that paint vibrant images tied deeply to the earth and the richness of natural growth and the gentle, nurturing presence of God. There is an intimacy in the first reading, the prophet’s description:

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,
    from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,
and plant it on a high and lofty mountain;
    on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.
It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,
    and become a majestic cedar.
Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,
    every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.
And all the trees of the field shall know
    that I, the LORD,
bring low the high tree,
    lift high the lowly tree,
wither up the green tree,
    and make the withered tree bloom.
As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will
I do.

That same sweet tenderness pervades the simplicity of the Gospel, the promise of the mustard seed story and the picture of the kingdom of God. There, in the desert, the gentle generosity of God shelters the most vulnerable with the seeming simplicity of shade.

“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

This is morning: the freshness of new beginnings bursting with possibility and subtle supports to mitigate natural fears and anxieties. The image entices and impels a stronger, better, richer reality, something more than we might suspect exists. Each describes a caring, compassionate God alive to the needs of all that lives.

On the other hand, mourning is born of relationships, of concrete connections and tangible truths. Mourning confides absence and swells with the unrealized. Grief and despair, consciousness of loss and separation are inevitable in human life. The reading from Corinthians provides a kind encouragement for that reality. It begins with an emphasis on connections, relationships, a “we” that welcomes each “I” and “me”. When I am weak and forlorn, we can still be strong.

We are always courageous,
although we know that while we are at home in the body
we are away from the Lord,
for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous,
and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.

In ordinary times, life is layered complexity. But these are not ordinary times; the lurch of reopenings and re-entering into what was once considered “normal” can be demanding and even exacting. Acknowledging that complexity is like grasping the crisp constrast of homophones that reveal something of who we are and what we experience. All of it has a home in what it means to be human. Somehow, the readings for the Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time address that.

Beyond Knowing

Everyone carries a story of experiences that shape and record memory, impact thought and actions, stretch through the awe-filled and awful, slip past the tender and terrifying into the realm of what is real and purposeful. From there, we live out the promise each dawn brings, interweaving the narratives and creating lives and families, friendships and communities. There, in the simplicity of sharing a tapestry, human life finds purpose and meaning in love in all its various forms. Love of partners and falling in love, being in love, love for children and friends and neighbors is sourced in true presence to one another. On this feast, the Solemnity of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ, that Presence is celebrated.

Life is short, and packed with choices and decisions, actions and consequences, causes and effects. It runs wildly through calendar years and slips through decades. The conscious awareness of what is actually happening is dulled by the very busy-ness of it. And yet, love is the underlying theme of all that. Love is framed by the presence of one to another, by the interplay of conversation and partnership, by the commitment to common challenges and continual change. Love allows for the inevitable failures, for the flaws and faults of others, for the disappointments and heartbreak of loss and destruction. Love counters the brokenness with unconditional acceptance and the courage of trust and the strength to move forward. Love is daring to remain present amid the complexity of the narrative.

Today, in this feast, that very truth is captured. It rests there in the Marks’s Gospel, sometimes overlooked as “the institution of the Eucharist”. It is so much more than that! The words define that sense of Presence.

While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.
Amen, I say to you,
I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine
until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Then, after singing a hymn,
they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The Eucharist is the Presence of God to each one in the flowing streams of our human stories, through the tsunamis and the earthquakes, the gentle sunrises and the splendor of sunsets: always there, always waiting. In spite of our stories, our choices and failings, always there. In the rich drama of human relationships, there is this amazing quieting gift of Presence in the Eucharist. There is no blame, no accusation, no hurt and no joy, no connection or happiness that does not find the resonance of Presence in the Eucharist. This is Emmanuel-God-with-us. Realizing this Presence gives us the ultimate model of unconditional love. More importantly, the Presence reminds us that in spite of what may seem unlikely or even impossible, we are loved beyond all knowing.


Trinity

Everyday, in countless scenarios all over the world, scars and wounds are opened. Hearts are broken, anger erupts, accusations made, blame placed, and responsibility assumed…or denied. That very pain, so unwelcome but perhaps essential to unlocking the full capacity of what it means to be human, is alarmingly real in so many instances. Its existence unlocks empathy and love, and can be a harbinger for change. It reveals, too, that there is a deep senstivity to words and meanings, inferences and implications, that has become both demanding and daring. In a sense, that senstivity opens the horizons imposed by the limitations of language. In another way, that sensitivity challenges the conventional and ascribes a significance which may or may not be merited. Either way opens a portal that persons and communities must pass through. Either way the fragility of human persons is exposed, exchanged and sometimes exploited. Either way is costly. In these days following Pentecost, the channels of change are flowing openly. The celebration of Trinity Sunday speaks to that very phenomenon with completting certainty.

Trinity Sunday is a reminder that every generation, each person, is somehow tethered to a caring God and fastened, then, to one another. The first reading captures the depth of relationship in the passage form Deuteronomy:

Moses said to the people:
“Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
This is why you must now know,
and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.

Every group of people, every community and ethnicity, religion and nation has a story, a way of having come to this moment in time. The first reading invites each of us to consider the who and what and why and how of that journey. It is a call to respect the wonder of it, the timelessness of it, and the treasure of it. Somehow, this reading offers to the chance to linger with the prospect that all of humanity is somehow riding in the same precarious boat, hardly able to manage alone, and yet alive to a gentle and caring God.

The second reading celebrates the birthright not to be denied. The gift of the Spirit opens the truths of human beings created and sourced and fastened to God. There is a commonality that defies roles and status and challenges human systems and institutions. Children, all children, for better or worse, and living out that connection to one another.

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,

The Gospel reading seals the deal. Tucked in the end of the passage, past the missioning the disciples to spread the Gospel, is a key phrase: And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. This is the promise of presence, the gift of the Spirit, something to tap into, to trust.

It is not an antidote to the suffering of being human, but it is the relationship to carry through on the journey. It is the connection that can sustain us through the anxieties, uncertainties and sufferings.

Each reading captures a dimension of the transcendent presence of a compassionate and caring God. There is a Trinity of support, for the realities of living in every age, even this vortex of change there is the comforting stability of being loved and cared about.

Pentecost: Hope

Months ago, an earnest and enraged young journalist was mapping out a piece for a major newspaper. Disaffected and indignant, his goal was to document the collapse of a hypocritical Catholic hierarchy mired in scandal and scourged by its own leadership. We spoke of history, of grass roots faith and new initiatives, and the divergence between faith and fraud. Not a whisper or a word appeared in the published piece. But this week, in a tiny church in a small city knit into the fabric of New England, there was touching evidence of hope and promise within the Catholic community.

The pastor was wrapped in the red chausble of Pentecost, nearly tripping over the stole underneath. He paused in the middle of the sermon to adjust it, joking that the homily wasn’t that great anyway, and then continued with an anecdote about the movement of the Spirit. By his conclusion, he had an appreciative, masked congregation, laughing and praying for the “salvo” punch of Pentecost’s wild winds. After the final blessing, he motioned to his younger, associate pastor standing alone in the back of church. He came up the center aisle, hands shoved deep into his pockets and head bent forward. Genuflecting before the tabernacle, he stepped towards the altar.

At the podium, he paused, and then shared the news. He would be leaving that church, his first assignment as an ordained priest, an assignment he loved. Choking up, he stopped. In the painful awkwardness of silence, someone clapped. And then somone else, and somone else. A wave of applause brought the congregation to its feet. He was one of their own; the support was palpable. The pastor joined, and the deacon, big smiles and then congratulatory hugs. It was a single, simple moment of kindness and empathy wreathed in the light of a community coming together as one. The Spirit was more than evident, and the celebration of Pentecost took on new meaning and depth. As the Apostles bonded in the wild wind, so communities come together today, even now, such as we are.

Pentecost is celebrated in hope, hope that comes to life in the harbor of incredible loss. Just as the arrival of the Spirit provided a revitalizing strength to Apostles diminished by grief and uncertainty, this liturgical moment invites us to the same. The institutional church has been diminished by scandals of every nature, and yet there is a life of faith that recognizes the reality of human nature, limitations and hypocrisies and still pursues something more. The Spirit animated the faith and vision of the Apostles and animates the growth of grass roots communities of Catholics today. Just as the Apostles dared to pause in their uncertainty, to linger there and know the great grace of the Spirit, so we linger in our church waiting. And sometimes, there are those moments of extraordinary connections between and among the most ordinary of human beings. Sometimes, the Spirit slips into the awkward silence and fuels the thunder of applause. Sometimes, we are humbled in the truth that we are not alone and we are loved, loving, and live with the hope of becoming more.

For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that sees is not hope.
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with enduranc
e.

In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will
.