He Breathes New Life!

Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, E.V. - May 22, 2021


In his powerful little book entitled 'Let Us Dream', Pope Francis lays out the challenge we face as we begin to emerge from the pandemic:

'We need a movement of people who listen to each other, who know they need each other, who have a sense of responsibility for one another and for the world we share.  We CAN come out of this crisis better.  But we have to see clearly, choose wisely, and act rightly. Let us talk this over. Let us dare to dream.'

In the Pentecost issue of The Tablet, Australian Jesuit Fr. Richard Leonard suggests that the real miracle of Pentecost was not so much “the gift of tongues”, as the capacity to truly hear the Good News in a language we can understand:

'Most of us learned that the gift on display at the first Pentecost was a tongue of fire that came to rest on each of the Apostles, filling them with the Holy Spirit, and giving them the ability to speak in different languages. But a more careful reading of the story reveals that the gift received that day was not only one of speaking, but equally one of hearing.  Luke recounts how the crowds that gathered to hear the Apostles asked: “How is it that in our own language we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power?” Not only was the gift of tongues given to the disciples, but their hearers received “the gift of ears”: the capacity to hear, listen and discern.

When it comes to listening in the Church today, we often mistake uniformity for unity. At the first Pentecost, the earliest Christians knew that speaking the same language was not what mattered: it was the ability to carefully listen, and to hear the Good News being spoken in different languages. The first Christians were a very complex and diverse bunch. Like the Church today, they also had great struggles to deal with, inside as well as outside the community.

Pentecost faith reminds us that while we build our faith on the foundation of believers who have gone before us, we also have a responsibility to listen to our contemporary culture, and to bring it into dialogue with the Gospel. That’s why courage is one of the Holy Spirit’s pre-eminent gifts. We are not asked to retreat from the world. 

We are sent out to enter into conversation with it, affirming what we see to be good, and standing against whatever is demeaning, oppressive, or life-denying.  This is why we should ask the Holy Spirit to sharpen our hearing, and not just prepare our tongues, so that we may truly discern how best to proclaim the Gospel in our own day and age. To speak of God to others in an increasingly secular world, we require prudence and wisdom: we must listen before we speak.'

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful; 
and kindle in them the fire of your love.  
Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created; 
And you shall renew the face of the earth! 

*Excerpt from Pentecost Homily 2021

Fr. Raymond Lafontaine, E.V.