As a child, I was always drawn to the Feast of Pentecost. I think I liked the idea of the apostles, students, becoming the teachers in an instant because they could suddenly speak in different languages.
As I grew, my appreciation for Pentecost grew. I came to realize that the uniqueness of the feast wasn’t as simple as it sounded in the Gospel. With the ability to speak to others in their own language came a great responsibility.
Having the words to share the Word meant the apostles could no longer stay in their safe space. It was time for them to leave their comfort zone and go share the stories of Jesus with those who had never even met Him. The ability to communicate was not going to be enough. The words would need to create change in the people they met.
Each year, Pentecost is meant to remind us we all have the gift to be those sparks of change. We do not need to speak foreign languages. We do need to be able to communicate our faith clearly. Often, those messages need no words at all.
When I try to think of examples of faith, I think of little things. My math teacher Sr. Bernadita was not in good health, but when we went to Mass, she genuflected all the way to the floor on one knee without hesitation. I was struck by it because she did not do that because she had to, she did it because she wanted to as an outward sign of her faith. That simple action came across loud and clear, even to a sixth grader, and I often still think of her as I genuflect before entering my church pew. It makes that moment, for me, which can be done as a habit, keep its meaning.
As a Mom, listening to my children when they were little say their prayers was a true reminder of faith. There is no pretense when they pray. Their sincerity and faith shine through and that faith resparked mine each time I heard their little voices.
My children didn’t even always have the right words, which is a reminder that the real message for Pentecost is not the words, but the action of sharing them. The confidence the apostles gained because they could now share their message, thanks to the gift of the Holy Spirit, was the most important part of the change that first Pentecost Sunday.
Let Pentecost remind us that we always carry the Holy Spirit with us and just have to trust that together we can share the messages God needs us to share. In our everyday living of our faith, we can “speak” in that universal language the Holy Spirit still shares today, and BE the Good News.
–Patrice Athanasidy, SCNY Associate
Patrice, an Associate since 1997, is a free-lance writer, wife of Bill and mother of Charlotte, Peter, and Kit. She is also an adjunct professor of communication.