“Unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
‘Where is your God? ‘the sceptics ask – but sceptics too will catch a virus – and need the person standing next to them to raise the alarm.
Everyone these days can be a sufferer or a first responder – gasping for air or bringing oxygen to a person dying as their lungs collapse. No one is unimportant these days: anyone can be a victim of an unseen enemy, or an angel of mercy in the same month of the same year.
And no one is more important than anyone else when a flood threatens the city.
So those who say God is nowhere to be found, who call for Christ to come again, are not fully awake. Christ came first not so that any one person should become the focus of all eyes, but so that all should realize that in the person next to them Christ can come as the spirit of compassion and of family – so that they themselves can be Christ to their nearest neighbour in need.
What does celebrity mean in a storm that will topple all mansions – the gathering storm of a world environmental crisis born of human foolishness – the crisis that gave birth also to illnesses unknown until this time?
Covid 19 is a warning, and the bravery of first responders is a revelation of the meaning of Pentecost: all are to be raised up as children of light, and the first to answer are those who think themselves the least.
The Last Are Now First
It is those who add least to the climate crisis – the poor – who are now the world’s leaders. By consuming least they remind us of the difference between what we truly need and what we desire – and teach all of us to desire only what we need.
So the least are indeed the ones to be most celebrated and imitated, and they are everywhere. Celebrity as the exclusive gift of the few – the living ‘icons’ – is over. No one is more important, or less important, than anyone else. The Father of Jesus has no favourites – and no one is unseen: so Jesus has taught.
The prophets of doom – or of ‘rapture’ for a few – are also wrong. With crisis comes light, the light of the Holy Spirit – so the ‘New Pentecost’ prophesied by every pope since Saint Pope John XXIII will advance as the world crisis deepens.
The Holy Spirit of the Lord doesn’t have an agent and cannot be a media icon. As the paraclete, the advocate for the defence, this spirit can be in every heart and mind that seeks justice and a better world – and the youngest child these days knows the emergency dialling code.
To be summoned when courage wavers, this Spirit – the advocate for the defence – needs just a prayer – for courage is but one of the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts: peace, patience, courage, prayerfulness, knowledge, understanding – and awe.
“Come Holy Spirit, Renew Your wonders in this our day, as by a New Pentecost. Grant to Your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Saviour, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen.”
Saint Pope John XXIII, 1962 – In preparation for Vatican Council II, 1962-65.
Sean O’Conaill, 22nd May 2021