Pentecost 2024

Much has been written about ‘upward mobility.’ As a matter of fact, this is often the goal of college graduates, and of people in the corporate and not-so-corporate world. It refers to a commitment to working toward moving upward in life: a better job, a better name, an advanced educational degree. But in the race toward upward mobility, there is sometimes another agenda: that of seeking to be powerful, relevant and spectacular, as Henri Nouwen wrote in his book, The Selfless Way of Christ, Orbis Books, 2007, p.49).


We have seen the painful fallout of such striving: the defeat of the vulnerable, the crumbling of once life-giving relationships, and the terrible injustice of betrayal of others as a means of reaching the top ourselves. Upward mobility is a two-edged sword.


Jesus, on the other hand, came to show us the way of ‘downward mobility’ as the touchstone of holiness. In this, a person is willing to give up something precious, a higher paying job perhaps, in favor of dedicating oneself to the service of the Gospel. This is the Way of Jesus. Though He was in the form of God, Jesus did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8, Ignatius Bible, RSV edition).


What does this have to do with Pentecost? Today we celebrate the final Gift of Jesus, as it were: the possession of and possession by His Holy Spirit. On the first Pentecost the apostles were transformed by the Holy Spirit into men completely dedicated to spreading the Word, at whatever cost. As we know, often it was not popular, and disciples were sometimes led to give up home, family and eventually their lives. All this was with great love, and all because Jesus first gave up everything for love of us. Throughout the centuries since that first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Christians have been inspired to place God and His Kingdom before everything else in their lives. Most of us are not all asked to travel to foreign lands to preach the Gospel, but the Holy Spirit of Love within us spreads the fragrance of Jesus by our gentleness, our compassion and our fidelity to truth, wherever we encounter open hearts. That is the fruit of downward mobility—and it has its own nobility!


Downward mobility is not a dark endeavor. It’s a way of life that’s filled with light and freedom.  We bend down to those who are downtrodden, offering them the friendship of a heart that belongs entirely to Jesus without concern for how much it will cost us. And it’s a way of life that speaks words of hope and purity when others might be shouting about the need to rise up in protest of any constraint to our personal freedom. No, the freedom of the daughters and sons of God, given to us in our baptism and renewed when the Spirit pours out His grace on us, is a gift we have received that we in turn give to the world in which we live—our city, our neighborhood, our office, our home.


As we celebrate the great Feast of the coming of the Holy spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-17), we find ourselves opening our hearts to receive all that Jesus wants to give us through Him in order to find Him within ourselves, and to foster the presence of God in others. At no cost. With no pomp or circumstance to herald our efforts. Only this: to allow God to help us be the person He created us to be. Then, as Catherine of Siena said, we will set the world on fire.


Blessed Feast of Pentecost to you.


“With Mary, our lives continually proclaim the greatness of the Lord and the joy experienced in rendering service to Him.”

Holy Rule

Make a difference today ~ help us reach those in need!