By: Fr. Ray Reyes, Liaison
Archdiocese of San Francisco Catholic Charismatic Renewal
I am writing this a few days after the Lord’s Ascension and a few days before Pentecost Sunday. The farewell discourse or the parting words of Jesus to his disciples as told by Saint John dominate the readings this week. The central theme of Jesus’ message, in fact, the prayer that he said in the Garden of Gethsemane, was on unity that he desired for his disciples and would be followers. Jesus must have felt the great anguish and anxiety knowing that his closest friends would inevitably experience division among themselves after leaving them.
Our world is full of division and all of human history seems to tell the same story. As we witness such disharmony that spills over in our beloved Church, within our church leaders and among the laity. Bishops are divided on whether abortion is the preeminent issue over other social concerns such as immigration, euthanasia, gender identity, same sex marriage and so on. There are those who support our Holy Father and there also others who are not fond of him and his teachings. It is so ironic to see the ongoing war and battle between the Palestinians and the people of Israel, the holy place where our blessed Lord himself lived.
Such disharmony is also something we struggle deep within. We sometimes hate ourselves when we can’t let go of past hurts or personal habits or addictions.
I remember a certain ritual practiced at every wedding. This ritual is called the Ritual of Disconnecting. In this ritual, the groom steps away from his friends and goes to the altar to wait for his bride. The bride walks down the aisle, often accompanied by her father, who on behalf of the family, kisses her good-bye and gives her away to the groom. The rite of disconnecting is a sign of the major turning point in the couple’s life. The bride and groom literally leave family, friend, and the single life behind in order to dedicate themselves to the special mission of living a life in common with another human being. Psychologists and counselors warn that unless spouses disengage themselves from their respective families or origin, they cannot grow in their relationship with each other. Many young couples found it difficult to build their own life together because they had not fully disconnected either from their families or from their habits of their single life.
In a similar way, Ascension, the Lord’s disconnecting himself from us, offers us the opportunity to anticipate something new about ourselves with the coming of the Holy Spirit. Disconnecting becomes a prerequisite for truly being able to welcome a new relationship, a new beginning and yes a whole new world.
Division, concord and disunity will always be upon us but for a purpose. As we reflect on the many areas of disharmony we encounter in our world, our church, our ministry, our family and ourselves, let us further ask on what else we need to ascend from. “What do we need to let go and disconnect ourselves from… so that we can accept the coming of the Holy Spirit whom God is sending us?”
As we are about to celebrate Pentecost Sunday, let us pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence of healing & unity that is not first of all the result of any human effort. Jesus himself prayed for it on our behalf. Unity is a divine gift, for it is a reflection of the union between our Lord and His Father and which is made present through the Holy Spirit. This UNITY is truly deep and strong because it comes from God. This UNITY, God’s gift through the Holy Spirit, is what the church, the world, our nation and all of us need at this time.