When a man leaves his mother and father and clings to his wife, their marriage in its earliest stages is a transition period. Ask any married person.
When a teacher who, for 30-40 years puts forth an effort that hundreds and thousands of students will never forget the impact the teacher made on their lives, as that teacher retires, there is a transition period from work to retirement. The same goes for many occupations.
When a 27-year old gets ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ, like Fr. Jim Boland did today/yesterday, the earliest stage of priesthood is a period of transition, from seminarian, to Deacon seminarian, to priest.
When someone loses to death a person they love, in particular a spouse losing their best friend, there is a transition of heart, mind, and spirit that will last, not for a short time, but more than likely for the rest of their lives. Until that reunification in heaven.
When one Pastor is in a parish for a long period of time, and he becomes familiar with the lives of many of his parishioners over the years, and a new Pastor comes in to replace him, there is a transition period for both the people of God he will serve and the new Pastor. Also, a few people see such a change as an opportunity to transition and travel to another community of faithful Catholics.
So, there they are. The Apostles are sitting in the Upper Room, where the doors are locked, bolted, slammed shut, with chairs, couches, televisions, refrigerators, washers and dryers, and the kitchen sink up against the door in such a way where even Jesus can’t open it, or an ant cannot crawl underneath. It’s a good thing Jesus is no longer subject to the laws of space and time in his resurrected state. It’s the only way he can make it into their presence, by traveling through objects, because even God cannot open that door.
Jesus appears before them with a message of peace and sending. The peace will remove their fear. The sending forth in its earliest stages is their time of transition. They will transition from being fishermen, tax collectors, and whatever else they did, to being the first priests and only Apostles. It’s quite a change. Just ask Fr. Jim next week. It’s quite a change from pulling in a net on the Sea of Galilee to leading souls to heaven. It’s quite a change from being a tax collector like Matthew who probably cheated countless people to traveling to unknown places preaching that Jesus is Lord, and that God raised him from the dead.
How can they do such a thing, and be good at it? And I mean really good at it! How can they shift from a lifestyle and routine they were settled in and comfortable with, and begin teaching to strangers Christian doctrine that has held up for two millennia? And will hold up until the end of time? This can be said with complete certainty because of the answer. The answer being that the Spirit of God protects and secures all transitions in life that find their source in God’s will.
All transitions that happen over a lifetime, from the easy ones to the tough ones, the question to be asked in all of them is, “What is God’s will?” And, “How is the Spirit of God going to bring forth good, especially from the bad events?” When such questions are placed into the mix of our lives, especially lives in transition, then the Spirit is allowed to lead, we allow ourselves to follow, and understanding to some extent can be ours. But it must be dependent upon the Spirit of God.
All of us to one degree or another can relate to the events of Pentecost. Today is a celebration that tells us there is a great force, a sure power, and a firm conviction Who sustains our lives. To have such an awareness is a blessing. This is one of the things I love about Fr. Jim Boland; he knows it’s the Spirit who has guided and brought him to this place in his life. Where he will now stand at the altar and offer sacrifice; where he will preach the Good News of Jesus Christ; where he will lead others closer to their Lord in ways of faith and good works.
To have such an awareness is a blessing. Because our world is filled with folks who think they can go it alone. As hard as anyone tries to go it alone, they will never succeed. One cannot be considered “successful” when they leave out the most important Person on the stage. We can pretend he’s invisible, or non-existent, or on another stage in another world somewhere. But pretenders who reject the Spirit of God ultimately realize their lack of joy.
When the disciples saw Jesus, the Gospel tells us they rejoiced. They couldn’t contain their emotional high from heaven. They laughed and smiled and high-fived and sang “We Are The Champions.” They rejoiced! This was the start of their transition…and ours. From fear to rejoicing. And they will never go back to fear, or give in to it, or allow it to stop them from doing their Christian duty.
And neither should we ever fear such a thing. Don’t fear the world, my friends. Don’t fear circumstances and people who test your Christian mettle. Don’t fear those who tell us we are backwards, or living in the 50’s. Rather, invite them into God’s love and truth. Help lead them to a wonderful transition. We live in the resurrection. We are constantly in a state of transitioning closer and closer to looking on the face of Jesus, just as the Apostles did.
This Pentecost, allow the Spirit to help us through any darker moments that may be present. Have a heart that is open to God’s transforming presence. Know that each of us has been chosen to reveal the living Christ. Walk forth with courage and confidence. For the Spirit of God is alive, and he wants to live within you.
In this we rejoice, and give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love, his Spirit, endures forever.