By Sharon Wilson
Last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday.
Although we don’t celebrate the Octave of Pentecost like we do at Easter, I find myself reflecting on these readings all week. In the past year, I started working at a parish that has the tradition of reading the Mass readings in a variety of different languages on Pentecost Sunday. This tradition points us to the first reading from Acts where it says, “At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.”
We live in a society where differences and diversity are exalted. Our uniqueness is never in doubt in God’s eyes, after all he knew us when we were formed in the womb, but I worry that if our goal is to celebrate our differences, then we maybe have lost the message of unity… Diversity was never God’s plan.
In my previous parish I was witness to a consolidation of three churches forming one parish. The French, Irish, and German churches still stood and practiced the faith with their own identities. Even though the French, Gallic and German languages were no longer spoken at these parishes, which were just blocks from each other, the grasps to this old culture were there just the same.
The transition to becoming one parish was a difficult one for many members. It forced many to sacrifice control and to give up the earthly identity that kept them separate. How can we be “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic” church when we let our earthly identities keep us separate? But spiritual growth and transition came when we let go of our control to allow “God’s will be done.” Amazingly, even just a year after the consolidation, a new growth and unity was formed! No longer did the national cultures of the parishes separate us. We were one!
Today’s celebration reminds us not only to leave behind cultural differences but to embrace the universality of the Church. Our faith tradition spans not just the last 50 years but the last 2000 plus. When we identify as something other than the whole of the Church, it creates division. We are an ancient church and a modern one, we are a Vatican II Church and a Council of Nicene Church. We are a Church with a history but are moving into the future!
Pope Frances said last winter in one of his daily homilies, “I ask you to do everything possible to not destroy the Church with divisions; they are ideological, they come from greed and ambition, they come from jealousy. And above all to pray, and to keep the founts, the very roots of the unity of the Church, which is the Body of Christ; which we, every day, celebrate [in] His sacrifice in the Eucharist.”
It is our earthly language that separates us. In the church, it is the heavenly language that unifies us. The language of love.
Question to ponder: What areas do you need to sacrifice control over so that you may more fully say “yes” to the Holy Spirit?
About the Author:
Sharon Wilson is a “ Wife, Mother, Writer, Catholic Speaker, and a WINE Specialist. Sharon has a degree in education and has worked as a freelance writer, Respect Life Coordinator, a teacher, in advertising, radio, buyer and in youth advocacy â€“ She even rode an elephant in the circus once! Sharon speaks, writes and shares about God’s healing and about the great gift of being Catholic.