Sunday, October 28, 2007

3rd Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

My heart is burning within me. A few minutes ago it was tight with fear and I was jumping at every sound. A few minutes ago, we were all sitting quietly in the room, half-expecting, at any moment, to hear the tramp of heavy footsteps pounding their way up the stairs towards us. We were expecting the inevitability of a fist banging the door, a gruff voice and the entry of an armed guard. The anticipation of bound hands and of an ignominious parade through the centre of Jerusalem was something that seemed unavoidable. For all of us, there was a flesh-crawling fear of having the clothes stripped from our backs and, where the flesh is unbroken and tender, of metal-tipped flails lashing their way through skin and muscle, of once peacefully-coursing blood spattered on the surroundings. Having seen those who had been scourged, there was the sick ache in the pits of our stomachs with the dawning realisation that this fate would be ours. Was it any wonder that we huddled together in fear?

Yet now, everything is different. I want to throw open the windows, unbar the door and burst out of this self-imposed prison. I want to sing and dance for joy even though I am tone-deaf and my dancing is unbearable even to myself! I want to throw wide my arms to embrace the world. Such a change in such a short time!

No. I am not drunk, and neither are my companions. We are not sick, unless feeling faint with happiness is a sickness, which I doubt. Where there was despair, we are filled with hope. The world is a new place. Instead of darkness, the sun is shining, but not just the sun that hangs in the heavens, a golden, burning orb. No. It is a sunshine of light and vitality that pierces even the blackest corners and fills them with promise.

After Jesus disappeared from us, we were afraid. We kept ourselves to ourselves, not straying far from the room where we felt safe because it was the very room in which we had shared our last meal with Jesus. It was the women who were courageous. They brought us food and water, kept us alive. At night we merely pulled our cloaks around us and slept on the floor or on benches. It was uncomfortable, but we did not want to draw attention to ourselves, even by finding sleeping mats. If we had to leave the room at all, it was briefly, silently, with as rapid a return as possible.

Yet now, all is changed.

There was a sound that filled the air. We were afraid and yet not afraid, for although it was something we had never heard before in our lives, it was not the sound of a wind that would cause the devastation of a mighty storm. It was a wind and yet not a gale. That might sound a contradiction, but I am not sure how else to describe what happened.

The wind entered the room where we were hiding. How? I do not know for we had the windows tightly closed and shuttered lest they betray our presence. Yet somehow, that wind still managed to find us. In its midst was a fire, a burning fire that hovered mid-air,. Have you ever seen a fire that has no fuel, that is hovering above the ground? Can such a thing exist? Certainly not in normal life, but our situation was not normal.

The fire, as we watched, broke up into several small flames. Each flame moved through the air and hovered over the head of one of us. Can you imagine a group of men with a flame above his head? No, we could not have imagined it either. Yet that is what happened.

…and now, the fear has gone, to be replaced by peace. Instead of being trapped inside ourselves, inside the room, we are free, free to go anywhere, do anything. The fire is within, burning, consuming, destroying all that had kept us prisoners within our own hearts and souls.

There is a new spirit within, a Holy Spirit…

God bless,
Sr. Janet