May 27, 2012
My father was a diabetic in his sunset years. Being highly disciplined personally, he was admirable in terms of his self-control when it comes to food intake. Nevertheless, there were moments when, owing to unavoidable circumstances, his blood sugar would go down and he would be a little disoriented, confused, irritable, and physically weak. On such occasions, he would need an instant “shot in the arm” sort of, and that means a quick sugar fix that would almost instantly raise his blood sugar level. That would put him back to his old, usual self in a short while.
The events that happened more than fifty days before today’s solemn event were both enervating, and energizing at the same time. The triumphant entry to Jerusalem opened it with a lot of positive energy, with people lustily welcoming the perceived leader who would deliver an enslaved people from subjugation under the Romans. That was definitely energizing. A few days after, however, their glorious hosannas were turned into rueful condemnations to crucifixion. That was more than just a put-down. But three days after, sorrow turned into joy and exultation, when he rose from the dead.
Things and events could be enervating or energizing in the end. When things happen in a way we don’t expect and plan for, we get despondent. We get discouraged. We become weak in our resolve. But the same is true when we don’t see the whys and the wherefores of those same events ... when we do not see where it begins and how it will end. We become discouraged when something we expect to be what we believe it is, happens for an entirely different reason, for a totally different purpose.
When the Lord entered Jerusalem in triumph, there was reason for exultation. After all, who would not extol when the promised redeemer and polical leader had finally come to liberate them from the clutches of foreign domination? But then it all turned into is exact opposite when the pall of pain and gloom fell on them one Friday afternoon. Their upbeat energy was immediately turned into disappointment and despondency.
In many ways, on many occasions, our joy seems to be upturned and upset by sorrow – for a motley of reasons. One does not need to study history to realize this. One only needs to look at one’s own experience. One only needs to read Scripture and see how “evil happens to good people,” and how evil often triumphs and steals not only our inner peace but our resolve to stand fast in the good.
I have it on the authority of today’s readings that the final chapter to life in general and our finite existence here on earth is not about pain and suffering and despondency. No ... we are called to life, and when Scripture talks about life, it talks about the only life that really matters in the end. And what matters is not really life as we know it in this world, but life with God in heaven.
Today’s solemnity reminds me precisely of this “shot in the arm” that I referred to above. Our collective energy is down. Our collective “blood sugar level” has fallen. Our country has seen so much divisiveness and distrust all under the guise of good governance. We have fallen victim to our national propensity to hatred and cynicism. We don’t trust each other anymore. And we all suffer on account of all this.
We need more than a shot in the arm.
This, to me, is what Pentecost is all about. The resurrection and ascension was all about God glorifying and exalting His Son and defining who He is for us, for the world, and for humanity at large. But Pentecost goes beyond this. Pentecost is all about God outpouring, God profusely giving, God generously granting us the powers from within that gives us, in turn, the power to face a world so marred by division and disunity.
We have families estranged from each other after decades of bickering and wrangling in court. We have political parties taking up battle lines with both sides unsheathing their swords and taking up battle positions, destroying one another in the process, and destroying the peace in our commonweal.
We have so much hatred for so-called crooks and corrupt people around us, and are so quick to condemn other s even if all we can hold on to are “truths” peddled by mainstream media. We condemn one another like as if we have seen for ourselves the evidences but which are really interpretations that come from interested parties, no matter how seemingly honourable.
I am personally enervated by all this ... nay ... I am discouraged. I am saddened by so much negativity and hatred and condemnation. The level of societal regression in terms of anger at injustice has, in many cases, turned into anger as injustice.
I need a shot in the arm. My sugar level is way down low. I need to be energized. And that is precisely what takes place today. The Holy Spirit comes down to empower me and all of us once again. He comes to bring us together, in such a way that even if we speak so many languages of love and hatred, we can still be once gain made one, made whole, and made sane by the life-giving Spirit of love, joy, peace, unity, and strength.
Come, Holy Spirit! Bind this nation by your power. Heal our land ... Heal our souls. Purge us of hatred and disunity and division. Make us whole once again ... one body with many parts, one Church with many members, one family of nations and peoples all struggling together to reach our common life and our only true home – heaven! At times like these when our cups seem empty, our hearts seem bereft of energy, fill once more the hearts of believers!
May 25, 2012
Tai, Mangilao, Guam