Our Lady of the Assumption Parish
May 29, 2020
Veni, Sancte Spiritus!
The most powerful thing about Pentecost
Easter time officially ends on Pentecost Sunday. But the celebration never ends, because the good news of Jesus remains always good. So the church calendar, remembering the life of Christ, doesn’t simply run off and end after the three obvious seasons of Advent, Lent, and Easter. It keeps moving forward into what used to be essentially the Season of Pentecost—a.k.a. the “season of the church;” or what we now call Ordinary Time. It’s the longest of all the seasons, including the time between Christmas and Lent and flowing forward from Pentecost through the feast of Christ the King at the end of November. Maybe it needs to be the longest season because it takes time to embrace the fullness of the Life of Christ.
As we all know the church isn’t normally considered among the world’s great superpowers. The Vatican doesn’t have a nuclear arsenal, and while the Jesuits might be the pope’s army, they aren’t packing heat (at least, not to my knowledge!). Nations don’t quake in their boots when the pope makes a statement. Politicians running for office probably don’t worry about threats from the ministers of the church.
In general, the authority of the church is gentle, soft, and invitational. It’s wielded by the pens of theologians, the typefaces of publishers, the homilies of pastors, the ministries of the sacraments, and works of charity and justice. The church asks and tells, seeks and finds, sometimes affirms through canonization and sometimes denounces through excommunication. But leaders in the church aren’t expected to behave like bullies who push and punish to get their goals accomplished and the Gospel preached.
So when the church spills out into the world’s streets, its testimony is strong but the message is couched in terms of love, compassion, unity, reconciliation, peace, justice, joy, and hope. Are these powerful words? Yes, they are. Are they more powerful than guns and bombs and death threats? Yes, when you believe in a power that is stronger than death, stronger even than hell.
When Jesus arrived behind the locked doors of the upper room on Easter Sunday night, he brought the ultimate weapon with which to arm his followers: the authority to forgive sins. Nothing ever invented can defeat this power. It breaks down walls erected within marriages, between parents and children, or one neighbor and another. Forgiveness can reunite a divided nation, or bring nations together at the table of goodwill. Forgiveness dissolves barriers between heaven and earth—and it can breach the boundary of death itself. Maybe the church is a superpower after all.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Edward Domme
Solemnity of Pentecost May 31