Last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday, bringing an end to the Easter Season and returning us to Ordinary Time. I really like the story of Pentecost and what it means for us. God sent the Holy Spirit down upon the disciples as they sat in fear and gave them the gift of communication. They were able to speak normally, in their own language, and anyone – no matter what language they spoke – was able to understand what the disciples were saying.
I believe this gift is still being bestowed on us as modern disciples. Think of asking a professional in whatever field to “put that in laymen’s terms”. We are asking them to speak in a language we understand. Sometimes, especially when I’m asked a question about my faith, beliefs, or the church, an answer comes spewing out of my mouth that I have no idea where it came from or how I even thought to answer it that way. It takes me a little by surprise and seems to be the Holy Spirit providing the answer. That answer comes in a way that the person asking the question can understand – in his/her own language, so to speak.
For one example, in 1999 a movie called Stigmata was released. It was "… possibly the funniest movie ever made about Catholicism--from a theological point of view. Mainstream audiences will view it as a lurid horror movie, a "The Exorcist" wannabe, but for students of the teachings of the church, it offers endless goofiness.” (https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/stigmata-1999) The folks where I worked knew I am Catholic and came to me with questions after seeing the movie. I remember trying to explain the stigmata, what it means and why it was so inaccurate to portray an atheist character in the movie receiving the stigmata.
One of my co-workers then asked if I would ever want the stigmata. At that question, I recall a calmness coming over me, a sense of someone saying “take it easy, I’ve got this”. Then I told my friend, that my faith was simply not strong enough to receive the stigmata. It is a gift from Christ to those who desire to feel what He felt and suffer how He suffered. I don’t want to feel that. My imagination says it was beyond painful and while I’m eternally grateful to Christ for suffering for me, I honestly don’t want that kind of pain. I don’t like pain. Pain hurts.
It is in moments like these that the Holy Spirit descends, and gives us the ability to speak in a way that is understandable to those around us. These times are very much like what happened at Pentecost, plus it is proof of Jesus’ promise to always be with us.