By Mel Jasmin
This Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the birthday of the Catholic Church.
We are the Church. In an amazing paradox, the Holy Spirit unites us as one, despite and because of our differences. Each of us is a unique reflection of God. Each of us has his or her own gifts, our own manifestations of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; and yet, we are all the same. Each of us and all of us are the Church. We are transformed into a Living Body, the Body of Christ, just as the first disciples on Pentecost Sunday were transformed by the Holy Spirit into Church.
Like those disciples who, once they received the Spirit, became apostles, we have to leave the Upper Room, the false security of our own little worlds, and dive into the world, leap into the world, bring who we are, Church, to the world. And we do this. We preach with our lives and, as St Francis of Assisi said, if necessary, with our words. We proclaim the eternal life offered for all who are willing to confess Jesus and accept His Gospel, live His Life. And others hear a language touching their hearts, yelling inside their hearts. We speak as Church and the Holy Spirit animates, brings life to those seeking meaning for life. We live as the Church we are, and others are drawn by the Spirit to be Church.
And yes, sadly, we can reject the Holy Spirit. We can close our ears and our hearts to His call to affirm the Gospel, to His call to reach out to others, to His call to embrace the Way with our lives, but then we are not just rejecting a particular grace, we are rejecting God. Simply put, I do not have the right to treat my Catholicism merely as though I am a member of a group. None of us has that right. I have a responsibility to the world; we have a responsibility to the world, to be Church.