Fear. That was the starting point for the apostles on that first day of the week. They were hidden away behind locked doors. They were so afraid of the Jewish authorities. The threat was real. What they did to Jesus, they could likely do to the apostles with false accusations, a trial, horrific beatings, and death by crucifixion. One could easily justify their outright terror of these things.
It’s only human. We struggle with various fears and sufferings. Some of us here are dealing with fear because of recently discovered illness. Some of us here are struggling with broken families and shattered relationships. Some of us struggle with addiction. Some of us here are beset with troubles and challenges, upset stomachs and sleepless nights. The temptation is always the same. We want to lock ourselves away and try to get as far away from the pain as possible. That’s what fear does.
But Jesus stood in their midst. His great and glorious presence was among them. Perhaps their first After all, they ran from him in his great moment of need. Peter denied him. Judas betrayed him. They all lost their courage when the test came. And so it is often enough with us. Remember when Adam and Eve caved to temptation? When God came to the garden in the cool of the evening, they ran from him and hid. Instead of running to him and seeking his love and mercy, out of fear and shame they ran and hid.instinct was more fear.
Our God has spent all of salvation history coming to us to stand in our midst. Love and mercy have been shown to us over and over again. In the instant when Jesus came to the apostles, before they even had a chance to hide in fear Jesus told them “peace be with you.” Then he showed them his hands and side. He showed them the scars from his wounds – the wounds of love that he endured for them and for us.
Something truly wonderful happens when we are in the presence of Jesus. Everything changes. Jesus has shown us that perfect love casts out all fear. In the midst of their fears – and our fears – Jesus stands with us. When he is with us there is no room for fear, only love.
Apart from Jesus and his perfect love, the temptations of the evil one swirl around us. St. Paul named those terrible things He called them the works of the flesh. They are: immorality, impurity, lust, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. These things lock us away from the love of God. These things are the opposite of the kingdom of God. We all need to pray to get rid of every trace of such things within our lives and within our community. They have no place in the presence of perfect love.
Know this, dear people - even when we struggle, Jesus comes to us. Wonderful things happen when Jesus gives us his presence, his spirit, and his peace. Listen to how St. Paul described the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We all need to pray to grow in these graces within our own lives and within our community. This is the inheritance of the kingdom of God.
Truly, with Jesus, everything changes.
So it is that on this great solemnity of Pentecost we pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit to come to us.
When we are locked up by our fears. – Come Holy Spirit
When we struggle with illness and pain – Come Holy Spirit.
When we suffer because of broken families, broken dreams, and broken spirits. – Come Holy Spirit.
When we are ashamed because of the sins of our past. – Come Holy Spirit.
When we are hurting because of wars, persecutions, and disasters. – Come Holy Spirit.
Jesus is forever the hope of the world, the healing of the nations.
Come Holy Spirit, and breathe peace and forgiveness over us.
Come Holy Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!