Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy

Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy


The Day Of Pentecost

What Does This Mean?:  (Acts 2:12)

There was darkness over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering…The ancient story continues in 2020 to stir the waters and everywhere the Holy Breath is filling the void. The emerging Pentecost is taking the world beneath the surface of the deep, into the depths of the ocean. We who have feared the drowning are finding resuscitation in the silent air and in the shutdown, the Breath is stirring us to a new awakening. There is distance and there is closeness; there is death and there is resurrection; there is funeral music and there is the chorus at dawn. In the unfolding mystery human intellect is expanded and a global consciousness is maturing. We said that before but this time the wind and fire, the new language and intercultural vision of Pentecost seem to be returning us to the  the primal longing for connection. Like the people in Jerusalem that day we also ask, What Does This Mean?

Sometimes it takes the shutdown to release the Breath. The opening of the void in Jerusalem began on the inside as minds and hearts opened to the wind and fire. The movement of the Breath had been emerging throughout the Resurrection days and with an unstoppable energy it moved back the stone and broke through the walls of the living room and joined the early morning picnic and guided the journey to Emmaus and back to Jerusalem. The fresh air of new beginnings was moving and the wind was changing direction. With our experience of COVID-19, this Pentecost event, a simple story from an emerging Church, looks very real and very life-changing.  Once again the cost for us has been great in human terms but in the pain of a million goodbyes our departed loved ones have released the Holy Breath on the earth and in their going from us we breathe more deeply the communion of life.

The Wind Blows Wherever it Pleases    John 3:8

Pentecost 2020 has a new setting. This time it seems that the community of all life has gathered to watch and to wait and the Upper Room sounds like creation groaning for release from human bondage. Pentecost is like that, ever contemporary, always evolving human consciousness. In the breath of the Spirit we continue to see beyond the limits and proofs, beyond the lockdown and the isolation. In Nazareth Mary, like the disciples, was also asked to leave her comfort zone and in an extraordinary challenge to her mindset, the young woman was puzzled and she asked, How Can This be? As the Beloved Son later took his place with us in the waters of the Jordan and in the wilderness of struggle and temptation, we began to grasp the fullness of our identity in passing on the breath of life. Later, when Jesus stood up in the synagogue to formally introduce himself he was clear that the Spirit of the Lord is upon me and in the breath of the Spirit he understood his mission to be for the release of captives, to set prisoners free that the Good News might be heard. As Pentecost continues to extend the First Light over our troubled world the questions deepen and the wind and fire invade the lockdown. We feel it. We are connected to the server calling us to be the global channel of the Breath.  What Does This Mean?

The Upper Room has a universal dimension and the disturbance caused by wind and fire is the triumph of hope, a turning point. In the closed room there was a climate change that day and the hearts of the people were stripped of fear and the wind and fire pulled back the curtains and the men and women returned to the streets with the message.. Pentecost releases the Good News. It was the final wish of the Risen Christ, and his parting words show us the way:

Go out to the whole world and tell the Good News

In recent months as we faced the fear of extinction we went back to learning the fundamentals. In the shortest of time a new language emerged with emphasis on finding together in the distance, finding questions in the answers and finding the wind and fire in the common good. In our frontline service, behind locked doors or on the street we taught the new language in the song and in the dance, in the shared meal and in the night vigil. It was heard in the intensive care of heroic hearts and it was understood where regulations were written in love and concern and in personal responsibility. The new language has a human face and the global family is learning to speak to one another again. Language is a central aspect of the Pentecost Story.  Filled with the Spirit the disciples discovered a new way of speaking. It was a universal code. The language barrier was broken. The outcasts who were keeping their distance heard the breaking news in their own language. The people left behind because of the criteria of prejudice and pride and power felt the embrace of inclusive arms.  It was Pentecost and the message was spoken and heard and understood and received and as the Spirit moved over the social distancing, the people came back to life. COVID-19 has taught us about language and that there is a common language, understood by all the people, inspiring a revolution of tenderness. Like the disciples before us we are learning quickly the art of telling the news and the new language is growing our outreach. It feels like Pentecost. We are together in the lifting of restrictions. Pentecost is a new language.  What Does This Mean?

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart – (Nelson Mandela)

They went into the streets with the language of the Good News and the people gathered and in the new vocabulary of this inclusive language of love, the cultures crossed over and shared grief and isolation became a bond of connection. Pentecost said No to exclusion. COVID-19 said No to exclusion. According to recent information from the Hubble Telescope this connecting energy is now 13.8 billion years in progress, still expanding, still anointing the deep, still unfolding the Mystery. The Holy Breath pulsates in Church and in Laboratory and collectively and individually as the pulse intensifies we continue to ask What Does This Mean?

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit –  John 3:8


Prayer by John Henry Newman

Come Holy Spirit
Make our ears to hear
Make our eyes to see
Make our mouths to speak
Make our hearts to seek
Make our hands to reach out
And touch the world with your love

Anna Burke rsm

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