Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:1-11; 1Cor 12:3b-7; Jn 20:19-23
“And suddenly, there came from the sky a noise like a strong, driving wind”.
Isn’t this a rather troubling metaphor for God? Especially in light of the terrible tornadoes that have plagued the southern and midwestern United States – including the one that completely obiliterated half of Joplin, Missouri. Hundreds dead. Millions of dollars of property damage. Lives wrecked. Why would the author of Acts of the Apostles – also the author of the gospel according to Luke – choose such a destructive image to represent the Holy Spirit?
Here’s my guess. The divinely inspired author of Acts wishes to impart upon us a piece of unambiguous advice – don’t screw around with being a disciple of Jesus. Be one or don’t be one. Jesus has great mercy for pagans with integrity. But if you go the way of the hypocrite – the way that emphasizes the superficial (I put on the trapings of Christianity but don’t let them get in the way of my self-appointed right to rape, rob and pillage the countryside) – then you’d be better off placing yourself in the path of an oncoming tornado. At least that way your obliteration will be over with quickly.
The Holy Spirit is not one to make compromises. If we let Her in, then She will rearrange our lives with a power that makes the most fearsome Tornado seem like a warm spring breeze. All the dead stuff, all of our prejudices, all of the false selves we so carefully crafted during our lifetimes, all the illusions that form the nice warm buble around us that insulates us from the screaming needs of our sisters and brothers – all of that will be blown away or reduced to rubble.
Will we be able to stand up and look into the Truth that will then be exposed? Can we stand such holiness?
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
(You can find my book lenght reflections on the Scriptures and the Church at: www.twentythirdpublications.com)