In our diocese, the Feast of the Ascension is celebrated this coming Sunday. But traditionally, today begins the countdown to Pentecost, the church’s first novena, nine days of prayer before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus said to his apostles “in a little while you won’t see me” and again “in another little while you will,” there was little certainty about the length of time he meant. In the context of the last supper discourse he was referring to his passion, death, and resurrection, which he had spoken of before as being a matter of 3 days. But of course understanding now how intense their emotional experience was, even the 3 days seemed endless. In the context of the first Pentecost, Jesus never set a date between his departure (Ascension) and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost). The liturgical calendar is a lot more precise, putting it at 10 days. When we know how long this “little while” is, it may not be as challenging a wait.
In our current quarantine conditions, there is a lot more uncertainty about when our waiting will end. We are experiencing a lot of tension and emotional upheaval. But a transformation is also taking place within us, if only we believe God is at work. As the apostles waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they spent a lot of time sitting in fear, but also in prayer and conversation perhaps about their experiences with Jesus and the mission he entrusted to them. We are invited to sit with our uncertainties and our fears. But we also need to open our hearts to hear God’s voice about what happens next. God is at work transforming us. And when that transformation is complete, the gift of the Holy Spirit fuels the church’s mission of transforming the world.
If our waiting is productive, we emerge on the other side with great hope, an amazing vision, and an awesome plan of action. We can’t just believe everything will return to how it was before. Even the world is being transformed. It won’t be the same world we will return to on the other side. And we won’t be the same either. We will be left behind if we continue to resist that transformation to which God calls us.
This mass was offered for the repose of +Gary Kessler.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020