I did not want to write about the pandemic. I did not want to write about the sacrifices we have had to make in the last three months. I did not want to write about the light at the end of the tunnel. And then, as I was figuring out what to write about, they announce that we are reopening the churches — on Pentecost weekend! How could I not write about the pandemic and churches reopening on Pentecost?
Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church. It is the day that Jesus sent out His Spirit onto His Apostles and they went and shared the Good News with all the world. The Spirit descended on the Apostles in tongues of fire and in turn the Apostles went out and “set the world on fire.” The Apostles had been lost since Jesus ascended into Heaven. They were stuck in this “now what?” situation. His last words to them were “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”. (Mt 28:18-20). What did that mean? How were they going to go to all nations, and how was He going to be with them always? Christ gave the Apostles a reason to leave the upper room. He gave them a mission. This is similar to where we find ourselves today. We need to leave the upper rooms and share the Good News. There has been so much sadness, confusion and anger. It is our mission to go make disciples. They had their reason to go back out. We have ours.
Father Mike Schmitz in his Ascension Thursday homily said that it’s more than just going back. It has to be different. If we go back to church and nothing has changed, if we have not changed, if our worship has not changed, then we are failing to live what we believe. He reminds us that the Ascension happened for a reason. Jesus could have just stayed in His resurrected form and wandered around for the rest of eternity here on Earth. He did not do this, though. Father Mike said that it is a reminder to us that resurrection is not the goal, restoration is the goal. If it was just to resurrect, why ascend? This is a time for us to restore what has been lost, what has been broken, and what has just become stagnant. I cannot wait to receive Christ in the Eucharist again. I think I might cry because I have missed Him so much. However, I need to keep that passion for the Eucharist going. This time away from the Sacraments should change us into realizing just how awesome the Sacraments really are. Restore what has become dull. Put back what has been lost. This is our mission!
It is time to really, truly celebrate the birthday of our Church. We are getting the best birthday present we could ever receive this year. We are getting a chance to once again be united with Christ in a physical way, and to pray with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let’s not let this opportunity pass us by. Let us, on this feast of Pentecost, restore not only our faith, but the faith of the rest of the world.
Like those Apostles, let us go out to the world and make disciples of all nations! Let us set our world on fire!
Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at email@example.com.