One day when I was sitting down at the beach, I was watching two children, a little boy and a little girl playing in the sand. They were hard at work building an elaborate sand castle by the water’s edge, with gates, towers and moats.
They had just about finished their project when a big wave came along and wiped out the castle. All that was left was a lot of wet sand. I expected the little boy and girl to burst into tears, to be devastated by what had happened to their hard work.
They surprised me! Instead, they ran up the beach away from the mound of wet sand laughing and holding hands. After a while they returned and sat down again to build another sand castle.
WOW!! What a lesson I learned that day! It is a lesson I have reflected on many, many times during this coronavirus pandemic. So many of the things in our lives, all of the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand. Only our relationship to another person survives and endures.
Sooner or later in life, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has somebody’s hand to hold and take a walk with, will be able to laugh.
I reflect on this as I see and hear of millions of small restaurants and small business being forced to close, maybe forever. Even before the pandemic hit I was talking to a priest friend of mine. We were discussing all of the parishes in Chicago that are being combined and closed.
He told me that TWO of the parishes that he had served in for years were closing. “How do you think that makes me feel?” he said to me. If I were sitting next to him before the pandemic, I probably would have reached over and touched his hand like the two kids on the beach.
On this Pentecost Sunday we should ask ourselves, “What Is Life All About?”
To me, life is a series of moments. To live each moment is to succeed. I feel that I daydream through a lot of these moments….WHAT’S NEXT?…..WHAT’S NEXT? I need the Holy Spirit who came down upon the People of God – the Church – to bring POWER….FORCE….and PASSION into these moments for me.
Blaisé Pascal (1623-1662, lived for 39 years) was one of the most brilliant men who ever lived. Pascal said that all human evil comes into the world because people can’t sit still in a chair for 30 minutes! Is this an exaggeration? Sitting Still….Being with ourselves is so very important. Most of the time we’re running – From ourselves…..from our inner life….from God. Why do we find being sequestered with just ourselves to be so difficult during this pandemic?
Blaisé Pascal was once asked how did he prove the existence of God? People expected to hear something truly profound from this brilliant man. Pascal said that he knows there is a God when he touches and plays with his baby daughter’s ear. Only God could create a human ear!
Pascal was again showing his brilliance. Centuries later, science would discover that ears are actually unique to each and every person, so much so that they are comparable in uniqueness to our fingerprint. Our ears are fully formed at birth and age gracefully over time, making them an ideal body part to confirm our identity.
The Holy Spirit we celebrate this Pentecost Sunday is LIFE! REAL LIFE! At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, life happened when the Spirit hovered over the waters, ending the CHAOS that the asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs caused. This same Spirit of God is today hovering over the earth to end the CHAOS that the coronavirus pandemic has caused and the violence that is erupting on our streets.
We hear about the Apostles in today’s Gospel (John 20:19-23) sequestered in the Upper Room with the doors locked. They were so afraid! Jesus was dead! Crucified! Their faith was not worth two cents!
Then Jesus appears with a simple message: PEACE! This is what their beings were crying out for: PEACE, deep inner PEACE! This is what our beings are crying out for today, deep inner PEACE! Jesus gives them and gives us the Holy Spirit who overcomes the devastation of asteroids, the devastation of the coronavirus and the devastation from senseless brutality.
You and I today are witnesses to this deep inner PEACE and the POWER of the Spirit. My hot water tank is filled with 50 gallons of cold water. Down below a tiny pilot light can almost bring those 50 gallons to a boil.
The Pilot Light in you and me is the Holy Spirit. What you and I have to do this Pentecost Sunday is TURN UP THE HEAT! We have to let the Holy Spirit melt our hearts so that they will tear down the walls of prejudice, sin, hate and bitterness that divide us one from another. Our Families are so Divided!! Our Country is so Divided!!
One day I was out on a lake in a power boat with friends. It was a very calm day with no wind. The boat next to us was a sailboat. It sat there “in the irons.” It was going nowhere. I could not believe what I saw. One man on the sailboat began to BLOW INTO THE SAIL. Everyone laughed.
So often this is what you and I do…..We BLOW INTO THE SAIL! But we go nowhere! We need the Holy Spirit to fill the sails of our hearts and souls with PASSION – TO BE ON FIRE WITH LIFE!!
How have YOU been blowing into the sails of your heart and soul during this pandemic and expecting to go somewhere? What is the Holy Spirt revealing to YOU this Pentecost Sunday?