One of our ongoing formation programs in seminary was called ‘Together in One Place’ – its ‘logo’ was a beautifully crafted icon of Pentecost, with the followers of Christ gathered as the Holy Spirit came down upon them all. We poked fun at the program’s name – 150 guys ‘locked up’ in the seminary – of course we were ‘together in one place’…we didn't have any choice!
As I've reflected on the scripture that inspired the program, I realize that physically gathering in one location is only one part of being ‘together in one place’. We never really began to get anything out of that program until we truly ‘got on board’ with one heart and one mind with its goals, and ‘opened ourselves’ to what God wanted to do in our lives through it. It seems, too, that the Holy Spirit poured Himself out in the early Church at Pentecost only as they, too, worked to become one in heart and mind and open themselves to God’s plan for them.
We come together in the same location each week for Mass…but I wonder how well we do at truly being together in one place? In our parishes, are we living and moving and thinking together about our mission and ministry, or are we struggling with competing views of who we are and how we’ll live ‘Church’ together? Have we opened ourselves to who the Spirit is calling us to be today or are we hanging on to who we have been in the past? Like the early Church, the Spirit will pour Himself out on us as we let our weekly gatherings truly bring us 'together in one place’.
Pentecost marks my 2nd Anniversary of ordination to the priesthood – I give thanks to God for His call and placing me in your lives in one way or another. My ordination prayer card quoted 1 Corinthians: "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified." This Pentecost, I ask the Holy Spirit to ever more earnestly kindle in my heart the fire that would let my ministry as a priest remain focused always on nothing more than Jesus Christ.
I make the same request to you today that I made of those who shared in the mystery and grace of my ordination two years ago: In your kindness, please pray that I might serve God's holy people worthily and well all the days of my life.