Pentecost is the day God showers the Holy Spirit on the Church. What does that mean to us? The scriptures tell us, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you….” That means God’s Holy Spirit is about power. It’s a little like switching on the power on our electronic devices. Then we can go to work.
Once we know we’ve got power, we can do a lot – communicate, make plans, think and write, teach and learn, reach out to help a neighbor or start a movement. Power is the beginning of all work and change. But are we using the power we’ve been given for God’s work? Are we using God’s power actively to help our neighbors who are poor and desperate? To examine society’s unjust structures and work to change them?
Furthermore, are we using God’s power to shape our own lives…to make our lives more Jesus-like? That might mean simplifying our material lives, rebalancing the work-play-refreshment balance in our days. Richard Rohr writes:
E. F. Schumacher said years ago, “Small is beautiful,” and many other wise people have come to know that less stuff invariably leaves room for more soul. In fact, possessions and soul seem to operate in inverse proportion to one another. Only through simplicity can we find deep contentment instead of perpetually striving and living unsatisfied. Simple living is the foundational social justice teaching of Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Gandhi, Pope Francis, and all hermits, mystics, prophets, and seers since time immemorial.
It takes power to live contrary to society’s teaching that “more is better,” or that “I’m important and others aren’t.” But Pentecost tells us we’ve been given the power. All we have to do now is use it. The Holy Spirit is already here among us, and within each of us. As some say, there’s a spark of God in each of us. We only need to turn on the power switch. JBM