Amy Welborn is a columnist for Our Sunday Visitor and Catholic News Service and a regular contributer to the Living Faith quarterly devotional.
The last couple months’ worth of Scripture readings during Mass have clued you into that: Jesus surely couldn’t have been executed just for preaching kindness.
Then came Pentecost, and that story gave you even more to think about. The apostles were gathered in a locked room, and were terrified. That’s why the door was locked, of course.
Why were they so scared? If Christianity were just about kindness, surely the apostles could get out there on the streets of Jerusalem and tell people about that without fearing for their lives, right?
But there they were, praying and waiting. They’d been told by Jesus to go out and spread the Good News and baptize all nations, but they just couldn’t seem to get around to it. They were almost paralyzed there in that room. For fear of telling people to be nice? I don’t think so.
You know the rest of the story, of course. The apostles’ fear ended, miraculously and stupendously when, in a rush of wind and tongues of flame, the Holy Spirit came in their midst, setting them on fire and giving them the courage to get out of that room and proclaim the Good News, as Peter did that day:
“God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
That’s the heart of it. That’s the core of Christianity – not just simple humanitarianism, but living rooted in the conviction that Jesus is Lord.
So what? What difference does that make anyway?
A big difference, if you really think about it.
If Jesus is Lord, that means that everything he said is true. Everything he said about material things being totally unimportant. Every word he said about living by the spirit of the Law, not just the letter. Every hint he dropped about sacrifice.
And, very importantly, everything Jesus said about God’s passionate love for you is absolutely true. Every sentence he uttered calling you to be defined, not by your sins, but by God’s love for you, is true too.
Imagine living that way. Imagine walking around in this culture of ours, in which human beings are nothing more than bodies to be exploited and wallets to be emptied, living as if Jesus, not the world of advertisers, is Lord.
Now you can see why the apostles were a little hesitant. You might even share that hesitation.
No, you won’t be under the threat of arrest and imprisonment if you accept the Good News the apostles preached. Not in America, anyway. But you’ll probably confront your own set of difficulties, from your peers and maybe even from your family.
So maybe now you can see the point of those gifts of the Spirit, poured out on the apostles on Pentecost and shared with you at Confirmation. If you’re going to embrace Jesus as Lord of your life, you’re going to need wisdom, understanding, counsel and knowledge to help you figure out how to live this way. You’re going to need fortitude to help you be strong. You’re going to need piety and fear of the Lord for those quiet times when it all gets to be too much, and you need to be re-fed and nourished for the next step.
So there you go, young apostle of the 21st century. Jesus is Lord. The Spirit’s in your heart.
Isn’t it time to unlock the door and go outside?