Our world needs Pentecost

The miracle of Pentecost included a call by the Spirit — a call that transcended language and cultural barriers — to know and love something new, between and beyond us, writes Fr Brian McCoy SJ.

I am writing this from North America where I have been visiting some of the Jesuits of our Province based in Georgetown and Boston (USA) and Ottawa (Canada). It is spring, and the end of the semester (and also academic year) has come. Students have handed in their end-of-year assignments and exams are over.

All that comes now are final end-of-year graduations and celebrations, and then the exodus: to move, take up summer courses, holiday, and visit families and friends. Some are moving on to new assignments. Others are coming to Australia and New Zealand for our three Jesuit ordinations next month.

When I travel in our Jesuit Asia Pacific Conference I get a good sense of the richness and variety of the nations that make up Asia Pacific. When I travel to North America I get a different sense. I meet more Africans, Europeans, Central and South Americans. I get another sense of the international dimension of the Society of Jesus.

What holds and unites us as Jesuits can come out in very important ways in final celebrations and departures. Solemn prayers and words are spoken, and both serious and humorous words are shared for those about to depart. There is a sense of farewell and the sadness that brings, but also a renewed sense of mission.

This is what we are called to as Jesuits: to live, learn and share life together, but also to get up and move to new places and face the challenge of new appointments.

This past weekend we celebrated the feast of Pentecost — a reminder that the Spirit always calls us, in our diversity of backgrounds and ministries, into a humanity of unity. Just such a moment was caught and powerfully experienced at that first divinely-graced gathering of Christians.

That was a remarkable time, not just because it gave birth to the Church, but also because it modelled for us, as followers of Jesus, a unity that we are called to dream and to seek. Pentecost invites us into a living unity in God that we sometimes desire, even taste, but which much of the world around us has yet to fully experience.

We need Pentecost. Our world needs it as well. Not a simple or superficial unity that brings people together for a moment, but something much deeper. The miracle of that day included a call by the Spirit — a call that transcended language and cultural barriers — to know and love something new, between and beyond us.

Even the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle can give us a glimpse of human unity, as people around the world gathered to collectively witness this event. Such occasions invite us to imagine a world united, beyond race, history, culture and even religion.

Fr Brian F. McCoy SJ, Provincial