Dear Community and Friends of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi,
May the Lord give you peace.
This year our celebration of Pentecost coincides with Memorial Day. We give thanks for the gift of the Spirit always already given. In John’s Gospel, Jesus, in his encounter with the disciples in the locked room, offers them peace and inspires them with Holy Spirit. Jesus empowers the disciples to offer forgiveness in his name. In the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples
praying in the upper room are gifted with the Spirit. They immediately proclaim the Gospel’s message to people of various nations. Each understands the message with no language barrier.
As we link our celebration of Pentecost with the memorial of all those who have died for our nation. We are called again to accept the offer of peace in the Spirit and to embrace the variety of nations with the message of God’s overwhelming love.
Memorial Day is a solemn remembering of the pain and loss that so many have experienced. We remember families and friends who grieve the deaths of Service Women and Men. We keep
memory as we gather to tell their stories and bless them for their shared gifts. We also commit to working for peace as their legacy. The power and dynamism of the Spirit enable us to engage in the work of peace. The gift of the Spirit is God’s presence within and among us. It is the energy of God gracing us to do the good. St. Paul reminds us that we do not even know how to pray as we ought but the Spirit groans within us as our prayer. We feel the groaning for peace, for freedom from fear, and for hope in a future of freedom for all. Our constant prayer is the acceptance of the variety of gifts embodied in the many women and men of our world.
As the diverse crowd that heard the proclamation of the disciples on that first Pentecost, we, a diverse community, hear the message of God’s love for all anew. We each hear in the way that we are able to hear. Often at Pentecost, we pray for the coming of the Spirit, as if God is holding back. I have always wondered why we do this. The Spirit has already been given. Perhaps it would be better to pray that we accept the gift that God offers us, the sharing in divinity that is ours through the breath of God breathed into us as Spirit.
In openness to the Spirit, we embrace and nurture our gifts. We are each uniquely gifted, and sharing our gifts forms the community known as the Body of Christ. As we see in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, each person is essential to the Body. Each gifted person has the dignity of God’s Spirit. We are likewise the Communion of Saints; our Memorial Day reminds us of the grace that links us with all who have gone before us.
May they rest in peace and may we work for peace.
Fr. Tom, ofm