By Matt Janeczko, OFM Cap.
So often we hear Pentecost referred to as the birthday of the Church: associated with birthdays, of course, are celebrations, cake, candles, wishes and most especially, gifts.
Indeed, the Church receives a gift on Pentecost: it receives the gift of its own divine life, the Gift of the Holy Spirit that binds the entire community, as Saint Paul says, into a single body.
Yet the very existence of the Church is not a celebration in and of itself: the gift of the Holy Spirit to the church is not a present to be hoarded. We cannot sit within the walls of this church, enjoying the Holy Spirit any more than the Apostles could on the day of their Pentecost. The very nature of a gift is that it is not earned, nor is their expectation of repayment. And so, the Holy Spirit’s descent on the Apostles in the upper room is not simply a gift, not another present to be opened and then put on a shelf.
The Holy Spirit is not a birthday present, but rather a birthday mission.
We are sent forth from this place, just as the Apostles were sent from their places, into a world equally as challenging, equally as dark, but equally as desperate for the message of Jesus the Christ.
As Saint Irenaeus wrote, the Holy Spirit has given the image and inscription of the Father and Son to us, and it is our mission to make a profit. Irenaeus actually refers to this gift as “two coins,” which need to be invested in others.
The ways in which we leave this place on mission are as different as each person: yet perhaps it is most important to remember that we are all sent, we all have a part to play, we all have the currency of Christ in our hearts: spend this birthday well!!!