Pentecost

May 20, 2018

May 20, 2018

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May 20, 2018

Pentecost

Deb

Organ

“Mom, you just don’t understand me,” said the 18-year- old guy.  “I don’t know why you don’t just buckle down and work,” replied his mother.  “Those friends of yours are not helping you.  If they were really friends, they would be telling you not to smoke marijuana, not selling you the stuff.”  “Mom, they are my friends.  They understand me better than you ever will.” And so the conversation goes; Mom usually feeling some mixture of guilt and anger and fear, son feeling misunderstood, deep down afraid, and vaguely at fault for that. There is what seems to be an un-closeable gap.

And that gap is not only present in our homes. The glaring gaps between people, even those of good will, in our politics and church life have never been wider in my lived experience. And the misuse of power and the unjust summary dismissal of individuals and groups of people based on race, gender and education level often appear overwhelming. And sometimes words don’t help narrow the gaps between us; they can broaden and deepen them. We shout at one another about guns, immigration, God and whose lives matter.  No one feels understood, and everyone is afraid.

And yet, a lot of us long for something new.  And maybe we don’t know how to find it.

Today is Pentecost.  Today we hear about a driving wind and fire.  Neither of those phenomena was accidental to the story we heard from Acts.  Acts puts as the context of Pentecost an ancient feast celebrating the bringing forward of a new creation.  It was when the Israelites harvested their first grain, festooned their caravans with flowers and greenery and danced their way into Jerusalem, as they remembered God personally placing God’s law among them.  The Acts story itself evokes the driving wind of creation, that again visited those first broken and frightened Christians, carrying on its heels the impossible reality of God’s Spirit inaugurating a whole new order of existence.  It was amazing! Fire and wind brought a word that came from beyond the fear, beyond the gaps that separated those ancient people.  Many of them could listen to one another for the first time.

Peter and the other followers of the Risen Jesus could not hide from that wind and the fire.  It came to them, and it moved them to be and do something they could never have imagined. 

Fast forward to right now.  Today is Pentecost.  Together we can gather in the sure and certain expectation of being permeated by the Spirit’s wind and fire that come from beyond our fears, divisions and wounds. This is truly amazing!

Feel the wind in your hair as you sit with your daughter or son, or your mother or father, maybe for the first time in a long while.  Is it possible, in really listening to one another, that the love that is deeper than the gap could show itself again? Feel the wind in your hair as you move and live in our divided society, open to vision a new way forward that fosters life for everyone. Bathed in the fire of the Spirit, we know that we are capable of talking with and listening to one another. The same ancient fire that went in a column before the Israelites as they wandered the desert rests on your head as you look again at the person with whom you are most at odds. 

The ancients used this wind and fire to build the church and to have the courage to explore what it meant to be holy right in the world.  Fire and wind were the symbols that reminded them that they were not alone, that God would never abandon them, and that their divisions were not insurmountable.  Those ancient people charted a path that has brought people together in many times and places.  In the ancient story, people could suddenly understand one another.  I imagine that the things that divided them did not go away completely. If we read a bit further in Acts, we see that some thought the disciples drunk, while others could understand them where such had never been possible before. Today, our divisions also likely remain, but the wind and the fire are MORE.

Today is Pentecost.  The ever-new presence of God surrounding us, in the very context of our fear and hiding, is given still and again to us today and challenges us to remember. 

The power of the Spirit of the resurrected Christ has not diminished.  The immense love that God showers in abundance in wind and flame has not changed, and the capacity of God to speak a word from beyond but right into our complicated and frightening reality remains real and true.

Today is Pentecost. Feel the wind in your hair.

“Mamá, no me entiendes nada,” dice el joven de 18 años.  “Pues, no sé porque no pones de tu parte,” replicó la Mamá.  “Esos amigos tuyos ni son amigos, si lo fueran no te venderían marijuana sino que te estarían apoyando en no usar.”  “Mamá, son mis amigos,” agregó el joven, “y me comprenden mucho mejor que ustedes.”  Y así va la conversación, con la Mamá sintiendo cada vez más enojada, triste y culpable, y el hijo sintiendo no entendido, con miedo al fondo, y también culpable.  Parece que existe una distancia entre ellos que nada puede eliminar.

Y esa distancia no solo está presente en nuestros hogares.  La distancia entre personas con diferentes puntos de vista acerca de muchas cosas está más ancha que nunca.  Discriminación, falta de respeto a muchos niveles, la ausencia de las perspectivas de mucha gente en como decidimos las cosas provoca una falta de confianza, y un ambiente inseguro para muchos.  Y muchas veces palabras no ayudan a cruzar la distancia, sino que a veces pueden aumentar los problemas.  Hay gritos acerca de armas, migrantes, educación y muchas otras cosas, mientras cada día mucha gente se encuentra más marginada.  Nadie se siente comprendido, y todos tenemos miedo. 

Al mismo tiempo, muchos queremos que las cosas cambien.  Pero a veces no sabemos cómo lograr eso.

Hoy día es Pentecostés. Hoy escuchamos de un fuego y un viento fuerte.  Son parte central de la historia que escuchamos de los Hechos de los Apóstoles.  El contexto de la historia es la fiesta antigua de los judíos en que celebraban el inicio de una nueva creación.  Cada año, celebraban esa fiesta cuando cosechaban los primeros granos, luego adornaban sus caravanas con ramos verdes y flores y bailaban por todo el camino hacía Jerusalén, mientras se acordaban de como Dios mismo había puesto su Ley en medio de sus antepasados. En la historia de Pentecostés, llega en fuego y viento otra vez un camino nuevo, y la esperanza imposible de una existencia completamente nueva para los primeros cristianos. ¡Fue asombroso! Ese fuego y viento vinieron de más allá del temor, de más allá de la distancia que había entre esos pueblos antiguos, con el resultado de que muchos de ellos podían entenderse por primera vez.

Pedro y los otros discípulos del Cristo resucitado no se podían esconder de ese viento y de ese fuego.  Les llegaron, y les conmovieron a ser y hacer lo que antes no hubieran podido ni imaginar.

Sin embargo, nuestro propósito hoy no es principalmente de hablar de ese pueblo antiguo. Hoy día es Pentecostés. Juntos podemos contar con la llegada de ese mismo fuego y ese mismo viento que vienen de más allá de nuestros temores, divisiones y heridos.  ¡Este es de verdad asombroso!

Siente el viento y el fuego mientras acompañas a tu hijo o hija, o a tu madre o padre, quizás por primera vez en mucho tiempo. ¿Será que pueda surgir y asomarse el amor más profundo que la distancia, y que siempre les ha unido, escuchándose de corazón? Siente el viento y el fuego y empieza a imaginar una manera de salir adelante, tu misma o mismo, y la comunidad entera. Bañados en el Espíritu Santo, podemos saber que somos capaces de dialogar. El mismo fuego anciano que acompañaba a los Israelitas en el desierto está sobre ti ahora que das cara a la persona con quien tienes el conflicto más profundo.

Los primeros cristianos usaron este viento y fuego para edificar la iglesia y reflexionar con valentía acerca de lo que significaba ser santos en el mundo. Viento y fuego eran símbolos que les acordaban que nunca estaban solos, que Dios nunca les iba a abandonar, y que eran capaces de alcanzar conectarse a pesar de la distancia entre ellos. Abrieron un camino para millones de personas por todo el mundo.  En la historia de Hechos, podemos ver que seguían con ciertos desacuerdos y diferencias, después de la historia de Pentecostés.  Si leemos tantito más de Hechos, vemos que algunos pensaban que los discípulos estaban tomados, mientras otros se daban cuenta de una capacidad nueva de comprenderse. En nuestro día también, los conflictos, desacuerdos y diferencias van a seguir.  Pero el fuego y el viento son MAS.

Hoy día es Pentecostés. La siempre nueva presencia de Dios nos abarca, aún en medio de nuestro temor y preocupación, y esa presencia sigue dándose a nosotros hoy, desafiándonos a recordar sus promesas.

El poder del Cristo Resucitado no se ha disminuido. El amor inmenso que Dios da en viento y fuego no se ha cambiado, y la capacidad de Dios de proclamar una Palabra desde más allá pero justo en medio de nuestra realidad sigue.

Hoy día es Pentecostés. Siente el fuego y el viento.

First Reading

Acts 2:1-11

PSALM

Ps 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34

Second Reading

1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13 or Gal 5:16-25

GOSPEL

Jn 20:19-23
Read texts at usccb.org

Deb Organ

Deb Organ began her ministerial life by learning how to run the unpredictable boiler in her home parish in Milwaukee, WI, at the age of 15.  Facilitating spaces of warmth and light has continued to be a passion throughout her life.  She holds a BSW from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, an MSW from St. Catherine/University of St. Thomas in St. Paul MN, and a DMin in Preaching from the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, MO.

Deb has been and continues to be formed in ministry by husband of 29 years and their five children, ranging in age from 26 to 19.  She learned and learns what Church is and can be from the hundreds of Spanish-speaking families that she has encountered in cross-cultural ministry in four US dioceses and two Mexican ones over the past thirty-five years. She also taught homiletics for the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul MN 2001 to 2008. Deb is currently the Pastoral Associate and Mental Health Clinician at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Minneapolis, MN and teaches Theology and coordinates Masters level ministry formation at St. Catherine University in St. Paul MN.  She also is part of the teaching team, offering a systematics theology course, for the Spanish Pastoral Ministry Certificate Program at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul MN.

The face of God has been revealed to her in many times and places, in many lives and experiences.  Deb has been invited to share in the preaching ministry in many of the parishes and other organizations she has served, and enjoys a longtime collaboration with the Dominicans of the Central Province in the United States, as well as with the pastoral team for the Tzotsil Mayan communities of the Diocese of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. Deb is currently working on the intersections between culture, faith/theology and trauma in her academic and her pastoral life.  In her role as Pastoral Associate, ten years ago she established a professional mental health practice at the parish in the attempt to eliminate access barriers faced by recent Latino immigrants seeking mental health services, and to provide culturally aware cross-cultural clinical services in Spanish.  The practice now includes four clinicians and a lamentably long waiting list for the free services.  Listening to the immigrants’ stories of unimaginable trauma often accompanied by unrelenting courage and deep faith keeps her centered in life and ministry, and keeps alive her belief that hope is real and durable, and can be nurtured anywhere.

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