During those 50 days, our liturgies and experiences of the richness of the word of God have been more than food for thought. We have been challenged by the word of God, reminded of all that Jesus said and did while he was with his disciples. We have been comforted by Jesus’ words and we have pondered on what all of this might mean for us, followers of Jesus for today’s world.
In one sense, it is easy to be caught up in the euphoria of being known as disciples of Jesus, knowing that in his resurrection to new life Jesus overcame suffering and death, and promised that his followers would also share in the experience of life to the full, in so far as they remained close to him and focused on his message.
The Scriptures we have heard proclaimed at Mass during the 50 days have been constant reminders of Jesus’ desire for us: that we come close to him, that we remain focused on his mission to all people, and that we learn the gracious art of being drawn into the love of the Trinity and caught up in God’s community of love where all of us may find a home.
In his teachings, Jesus used real images from daily life to explore what he meant. The language he used was the language of inclusion: coming close in response to the Lord’s call, being connected and drawing life and sustenance from Jesus as the true vine, understanding that Jesus is the bread of life and living water that nourish us and sustain us. These powerful images of closeness surely gladden our hearts and minds for the journey ahead. They remind us that it is human to want to belong and to be close, and in the closeness to the Lord and to one another, we can become united in God’s life and love.
Fr Richard Leonard reflects on the feast of Pentecost in this way:
‘Pentecost is a wonderful final Easter feast where we make and take Christ’s Spirit as our own and listen before we speak; where we are open to wonder; where we share, especially with the poor; where we are filled with praise for how God works in and through the world; and discover Christ’s unique presence in the ‘breaking of the bread’, and are famous for our joyful hospitality.’ (What are we hoping for? – Richard Leonard.)
In the lead-up to Pentecost we focused on praying for Christian unity and fanning into flame the life-giving energy of the Spirit. Post Pentecost we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart that again calls us into intimacy with a loving God who wants only what is life-giving for us.
All that has gone before this time has led to us understanding that as people of faith in the risen Lord, our call to discipleship is a call to be inclusive, welcoming and hospitable, and people whose lives in faith bring us closer to God and one another.
We will soon celebrate Refugee Week, and its theme for this year is unity. The words of Scripture challenge us to find ways to promote harmony and unity among all peoples, especially those seeking to have a safe and productive life in our country, a place where their dignity can be honoured and their great contributions to building up our multi-cultural Australia can be recognised and celebrated.
There is a home for all in the heart of God, and the theme of abiding in God and God abiding in us surely calls us to be outward looking and welcoming to all who seek to find a human home in our country. In a very real sense, our call as Christians, as people of faith, is to be on earth the heart of God – not, at times, an easy task, but as people called and sustained by the love of God, the challenge is to be hospitable and welcoming to our refugee families.
Kathy Horan is liturgy educator with the Office for Worship.