The Gospel of John, Chapter 20:21, says, "Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, so I send you."
Is there a solution to the problems of divisiveness in society, and in our times? Has America ever been so divided as it is today in the age of President Trump? I know Donald Trump, and have found him to be one of the most open and spontaneous people I have ever met. But, that was before he became president of the United States. I met him again this past Easter at a dinner in Mar-a-Lago. The burden of the office, it was obvious, weighs on him. He needs our prayers.
Even though Jesus was a prophet of peace, and gave his life so that all people might be set free, He tells us there will always be wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24: 6). Is it possible, do you think, to be at peace when all around you there is factionalism, enmity, terrorism, and wars? The answer, my friend, is that you can have real peace and real unity in your life if you only accept the Holy Spirit. This is a simple answer to a complex problem, but it is the truth; it is the kind of truth that will change and renew your life if you accept it.
Today, we commemorate that first Pentecost or outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. Before they received the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were a frightened bunch, cowering together in a room for fear of the Jewish leaders, the Romans, and the restless society in which they lived. But, after they received the Holy Spirit, these same people became fearless witnesses of Christ, the Prince of peace.
The message of Pentecost is a message of peace and unity; something our society sadly lacks because it seeks them in all the wrong places — by all the wrong means.
Before Jesus left this world, He prayed that His followers be united so that their unity would draw others to Him (John 17:1-11). He also offered them His gift of peace (John 14: 27).
Unity and peace! How we yearn for these qualities today! They cannot be achieved without effort and they need to be waged with the same intensity that others wage war and enmity if we are to change our broken world.
Today, we are challenged to return to the spiritual principle of our unity as children of God. First Corinthians 12:6 says, "there are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in every one." God is bigger than all of us. If we seek him with a clear heart and a good conscience, following the example of his son, we will find a meaningful place in his scheme of things.
Unity among us, St. Paul says, is like the unity of different parts of the body, "the body has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body" (1 Corinthians 12:12). Everything we do must be done with a view to promoting the common good because we are all interconnected members of the same body. When one of us hurts, we all hurt; when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. What a vision for today’s world! Co-operation rather than disinterested self-interest! Love rather than hate! Technology, money, education and drugs can be used to promote peace, unity and love rather than hinder the common welfare of mankind. No man is an island. We are all part of the same universe; we either rise or fall together.
It is the Holy Spirit who unites us, "all of us have been given to drink of the one spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13). Our spiritual unity with God enables us to grow harmoniously despite differences in personality, roles and functions. This means that scientific progress, technological developments, and individual talents can give God the glory when they are cultivated responsibly by people who are conscious of their common bond as children of God, and when they recognize their need for one another.
On a personal level, the gift of the Holy Spirit can transform your life into a magnet of love. May this gift of Pentecost abide with you forever.
Fr. Hugh Duffy holds a Ph.D. from the University of Hull, England. Born in Donegal, Ireland, he was ordained in 1966 in Dublin, Ireland. He is pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Okeechobee, Florida, where he served for 30 years and built a new Church, debt-free, in 2013. He founded Christian Community Action (CCA) in Ireland that built housing for seniors, a sheltered workshop and bakery for people with disabilities, a community center, and an addiction treatment center. Since 2013 he has traveled across America as an Outreach Priest for Cross Catholic Outreach, Inc. Duffy’s recent book, "What is This Thing Called Faith?" is a collection of meditations with reflections for readers on the sayings of Jesus. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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