A Pentecost Song
Have you heard it? Do you hear it now? I am speaking of the Pentecost song. The first notes sounded in your ears at your Baptism and will continue to play until you return your soul to God at death. Understanding the lyrics is to understand Pentecost, to grasp the call to discipleship, to invest one's life in the service of God. Created in the image and likeness of God, we share in the creative action and we continue the renewing stewardship of creation throughout the ages.
Neil Young (Photo: Reuters)
There's a world you're living in
No one else has your part
All God's children in the wind
Take it in and blow hard.
– Neil Young, There's A World
Recognizing the presence of a divine initiative in our existence gives us the essence of terms such as purpose, meaning, and destiny. Recall the parable of the Five Wise and the Five Foolish Virgins. They gather at a certain spot to await the arrival of the bridegroom and lead him to the location of the wedding feast. It grows later into the night and then at midnight the cry comes forth that the bridegroom is approaching. The five wise virgins have brought extra oil for their lamps while the five foolish ones did not. The lamps of the foolish virgins begin to go out and they must go to the market and buy more. The groom appears and is led to the wedding feast by the five wise virgins and all enter. The five foolish virgins return, rush to the place of the celebration and are refused admittance. Jesus admonishes his disciples to be ready always because they cannot know when the end of their lives will come. This condition of "being ready" is the message of the Pentecost song. This readiness is not a passive waiting around, but readiness is fruitfulness in the daily action of life; a life that incorporates an evangelical tone to the thoughts, words, and deeds that make up a day of our lives. There is a deadly seriousness to inviting the instructive and illuminative grace of God into the heart, mind, and soul of one who claims to be his child.
Could Damnation perhaps consist in discovering too late, after death – that one has a soul that has lain ansolutely unused, in discovering it carefully folded into four, and ruined, like certain precious silks, through lack of use.
- Georges Bernandos
Wangari Maathai died last year at the age of 71. She was a Catholic environmentalist who lived her life awake to the need of her native Africa to safeguard the integrity of the land, its wildlife, and its people. She was the founder of the Green Belt Movement and became the first black African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and she was a follower of Christ, and she was "ready."
Recently, I encountered a middle aged man who told a story of being raised a Catholic and then slowly drifting away from the faith. He fell asleep as a person of faith. Through an impulse to correct something that he sensed to be wrong in his life, he made a firm intention to return to the Church and to grow in knowledge and practice of the faith he had let slip away but now desired with a fullness of heart and soul. His words were underscored by the tears of hope and joy that filled his eyes. He knew that he had a soul "unused" for many, many years. He knew that, like the Foolish Virgins, was risking the loss of the light within his soul. Then, after the passage of time, he suddenly heard the Pentecost song and sought the salvation that it brings.
The Jesuit, Anthony de Mello, once spoke words that beckon us to heed the call of Pentecost. He said, "Most people are asleep. They are born asleep, they marry asleep, they die asleep – they never wake up." The reference is not to slumber, but to a spiritual sloth that encompassed their lives and left them spiritually asleep and in peril of the loss of their souls. Scripture warns us that God's gift of salvation was dearly won and we better not trifle with that gift or the sacrifice that obtained it. We have been presented with all the mercy, love, assurance, and support that we can ever ask for from our God. Now, we must respond wholeheartedly with a lifelong effort to spread the wonderful news of God's love and salvation. Have you heard it? Do you hear it? – The Pentecost Song.