Acts 2:1-11; 1 Cor 12:3b-7,12-13 or Romans 8:8-17; John 20:19-23
One bright Sunday morning like today, Benson’s mother hurries into her son’s bedroom and wakes him up. “Benson, it’s Sunday. Time to get up! Time to get up and go to church! Get up!” Benson mumbles from under the covers, “I don’t want to go.” “What do you mean you don’t want to go?” says the mother. “That’s silly. Now get up and get dressed and go to church!” Benson goes, “No, I don’t want to go and I’ll give you two reasons why I don’t want to go.” He sits up on the bed and continues, “First, I don’t like them and second, they don’t like me.” His mother replies, “Now, that’s just plain nonsense. You’ve got to go to church and I’ll give you two reasons why you must. First, you’re now forty years old and, second, you’re the pastor!”
This sleepy Benson could as well be any of the apostles whom Jesus had commissioned to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria and to the ends of the earth. But as soon as Jesus leaves them, what do they do? They retire to their upper rooms and hide themselves. They were afraid of the Jews. Like Benson they knew that the people did not like them, they knew that their message was different from the popular message of the time, and they just felt like wrapping themselves up in bed and not having to get up and face the hostile society. We too are often like that, going to church quietly, receiving Jesus in our hearts quietly, and going home again quietly to say our morning and evening prayers quietly. But what about the charge that Jesus left for you and me to be his witnesses and to share the Good News of God’s love with all humankind? No. People do not like to be reminded of God. I am afraid they are going to tell me off if I speak to them about God. I am afraid they will not listen to me. I am afraid they will call me a freak out of touch with reality. They don’t like us and we don’t like them. And so, like Benson, we give up on our God-given duty and go on enjoying our comfortable silence, our comfortable sleep.
Fortunately, Pastor Benson has a guide, his mother, who wakes him and persuades him to go out and preach. This is the kind of work that the Holy Spirit does in the hearts of believers. When fear of trouble tends to freeze our faith into silent submission to despair, the Holy Spirit warms us up and empowers us to go out there and make a difference. The Holy Spirit reminds us, as Benson’s mother reminded him, that we have a mission. Our mission is to tell everybody the Good News that God is their Father, that God is the Father of us all, that in spite of all the visible difference of language and culture and social status, we are all one family and should therefore live as brothers and sisters. Our mission is to break the barriers between “us” and “them,” between male and female, between Jew and Gentile, between rich and poor, between Black and White, between First World and Third World, and to bring all humankind to speak the one universal language of brotherly/sisterly love. This is possible only through the working of the Holy Spirit.
One reason his mother gave Benson why he should wake up from his sleep is that he is now forty years old. He is now of age. Christianity is now 2000 years old in the world. Yet even in the so-called Christian civilizations, the universal brotherhood of all humankind in God through Christ has not been understood. “What can I do?” you may say, “I am only a single individual. What difference can I make?” Maybe we can learn something from the story of the black squirrel and the owl.
A black squirrel once asked a wise old owl what was the weight of a single snowflake. “Why, nothing more than nothing,” the owl answered. The squirrel then went on to tell the owl about a time when he was resting on a branch of a maple tree, counting each snowflake that came to rest on the branch until he reached the number 1,973,864. Then with the settling of the very next flake — crack! The branch suddenly snapped, throwing the squirrel and the snow to the ground. “That was surely a whole lot of nothing,” said the squirrel.
You daily personal efforts to spread the reign of love and justice may be as lightweight as snowflakes. But by heaping our snowflakes together we shall eventually be able to break the heavy branch of sin, evil and injustice growing in our world today. Come Holy Spirit and fill the heart of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.