Shining with Pentecost light

HOMILY 

The Feast of Pentecost 

Sunday 31 May 2020 

Following recorded messages of community members reflecting on what “being the church” means  to them. 

Shining with Pentecost light ©Suzanne Grimmett 

‘There is a quiet light that shines in every heart,’ says John O’Donohue.  ‘Each and every life is clothed in raiment of spirit that secretly links it to everything  else. Though suffering and chaos befall us, they can never quench that inner light…’1 

I wonder perhaps if that is what the tongues of fire are all about on the Day of  Pentecost? Was it in fact that the light that was already there was made visible? That  raiment of spirit that secretly links us all to God and to one another was in that  moment glimpsed in some way. Those gathered there were given the gift of seeing  one another in all their God-given glory, and hearing and understanding another in  the essential unity that was made possible by the Spirit. 

Thomas Merton captured his own Pentecost moment in his writing when he looked  around and saw the light blazing within everyone who was around him. He describes  the presence of God in us all like this; 

At the centre of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin  and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to  God…. 

It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in  everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light  coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the  darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely . . . . I have no program for this  seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere. 2 

I think during the Covid-19 crisis we have all been responding spiritually in different  ways, praying together though apart, loving and serving one another though  distanced, watching with keen eyes for injustice and working to address human need though isolated. We have and we are, being the church. And I think through this all,  many of us are recognising that within themselves, too, is that point at the centre like  a pure diamond, the invisible, but vibrant light of heaven.  

And so we speak words of love. We offer comfort in whatever ways we can. We give  the gift of our friendship and our solidarity with those who are suffering through  these times.  

And we bless one another. Where the church has conveyed the impression that  blessing is the sole mandate of the priesthood it has done great harm. Each and  every one of us has the power to bless. Blessing is not asking or pleading or teaching.  A blessing is an intimacy that can heal and transfigure, reminding the one who is  blessed that they bear the image of God and reawakening in both the bless-er and  the blessed an acknowledgement of the Divine ground of their souls.  

So may we continue to shine with that quiet, invisible light, and have the eyes to see  the glory of God in one another and all creation. And may the Pentecost Spirit be  animated in us all, that, as we pray every week in the prayer of our meditation group,  our hearts may be opened to the vision of God, and so to each other, in love and  peace, justice and human dignity.  

+Amen

1 John O’ Donohue, Benedictus: A Book of Blessings (Bantam Press, London: 2007), 14 

2 Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Image Books: 1968), 158.

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