We are approaching the greatest celebration of our religious foundation, the feast of Pentecost, which will be this coming Sunday, the 50th. day after the resurrection of Jesus. Most of us know what that means. But for those who are not familiar with this feast, it is the day when the Apostles of Jesus experienced a renewal of their spirit at the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God in their lives, and made it possible for them to work miracles.
The story goes on to say that the Apostles were sitting in a room, scared and worried, but full of expectation for a new world order. In this era, there would be a place of equality for people of all kinds, as we hear in the first accounts of the day of Pentecost in the Acts of Apostles. People from all over the then-known world were gathered there: Parthians and Medes, and Elamites and the residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia.
With this backdrop of history, I want to invite you to look at our Nation today. We are the most diverse nation on earth. Like it or not, or believe it or not, our shores have become the gathering ground for a modern day experience of Pentecost. What our Christian Nation needs is the heart of the Apostles that will allow the Medes and Cappadocians to stand in unity, and to see the miracle of the tongues of fire that is transformative. What makes Pentecost a beautiful day of new birth of a religion is the courage of the Apostles that allowed humanity of all kinds to be present. It was not a place for just the people of Judea and Jerusalem. It was a place where all Nationalities gathered, a smaller picture of the America we know today.
What we need today is a group of leaders who can speak in their mother tongue, and let the listeners hear the message of hope, love and self -transformation. The language of love is, and always has been, beyond the limited characters of an alphabet and language. It is not a message of false hope based on narrow nationalism and cheap patriotism, limited by a selfish political agenda.
Our national identity was blessed with the power of the Holy Spirit long before her birth. We are predestined to become the greatest nation on earth, with a challenge to those who believe in the power of Pentecost to allow mankind of all sorts to gather on her shores. Allow the tongues of fire to eat up all that is selfish and narrow, eating through the artificial boundaries we have created for the kingdom of God.
This is a self-examination time for each of those who believe he or she is an American. Am I American enough to allow a second Pentecost? Are we truly a nation that is brought together by the humanity of Christ and brotherhood of one another? Do we have what it takes to allow people of all kinds to listen and hear the language of love, rather than the limited concepts of a language?
One final thought: The scope of Christ is farther, wider and deeper than the scope of religion, languages, and nations. Pentecost is an experience for those who are in the fold of Christ and not in the confines of religion, even though we might identify ourselves as a member of one religion or another. Make Pentecost happen again, and let barriers be broken.
(C) Fr. Jos Tharakan