When travel restrictions were finally eased and International borders reopened after 2 and a half years of pandemic, every news channel featured the emotional airport reunions. That was because such a separation was such an unusual thing for us to experience, given the way things were prior to the Pandemic. Back then, families were separated by distance, if members lived interstate or internationally, but they were only a plane ride away. With the pandemic, however, the borders shut and no amount of desire, anguish or money could make it possible to travel to see your family again.
What made it bearable was technology. They had not died and so were not beyond our reach. We knew that they were only a phone call away, or even better, we could actually see each other if we used Skype or zoom. This means of communication strengthened our hoped that the day would come when the borders would reopen and we could once again be with them in the flesh.
In the same way, the disciples of Jesus were saddened when he departed from them in the Ascension, because he would no longer be physically present to them as he had been before. But it was not a devastating event for them. In fact, they could even celebrate it for 3 reasons:
The first was that Jesus was now in glory, taking his rightful place at the right hand of the Father in heaven, after all he had suffered. So they were happy for him.
The second was, thanks to Jesus keeping his promise, sending them the Holy Spirit, they realised that he was still with them. They could feel his presence, support and real guidance.
The third was that this experience of the Holy Spirit reassured them that one day, when the border between earth and the heaven dissolved, either through their personal death or at the end of the world, they would be reunited forever with Jesus. The Holy Spirit was like their Skype or Zoom connection that linked them at any time, day or night, to Christ.
This is what Pentecost means for us. If you like, the Holy Spirit is our Skype or Zoom connection with Christ. But the thing is that you can have Skype or Zoom on your computer, but never have used them or don’t know how to use them. Perhaps some of us are not so sure of the technology or the reliability of our Skype or Zoom connection to Christ. Perhaps don’t really expect to hear anything back and we’ll end up like those apostles, looking up at an empty sky.
What it calls from us is a leap of faith. The invitation is to take the risk of relying on the technology. To click on your Holy Spirit Skype or Zoom app and open yourself to the possibility that you will hear something back.
Fr. Ray Sanchez CP is the leader of the Oxley community and responsible for Parish Missions and Retreats throughout Australia and NZ.