Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Happy (Belated) Birthday to the Church!

Photo credit Marina del Castell via Compfight (cc)
We just celebrated Pentecost. It is sometimes referred to as the “birthday of the Church.” In all my years of studying and teaching the Catholic faith, I just never quite understood why. Didn't Jesus establish the Church? Did the Church not already exist?

I don’t remember when or how, but it finally hit me. Yes, the Church existed prior to Pentecost, just as a child exists in his mother’s womb. However, only when a child leaves the safety of his mother’s womb, enters the world, and takes his first breath do we say he is born.  Just so the Church, while it existed, was not yet born. When God sent the Spirit, the Church took her first breath. In Greek, "spirit" and "breath" are both denoted with the word pneuma (it is also where we get the words "pneumonia" and pneumatic). When the Church received the life-giving breath of the Spirit the infant Church left the safety of the upper room, entered the world, and began preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. At this point the Church was born.

We are called and invited to breathe deeply the life that comes to us from the Spirit. Like the infant Church we are called to leave the safety of our comfort zone and proclaim the Good News. The first steps of the Church took her out to a hostile crowd that upon hearing the Good News was begging to know more. Where will your first steps take you?

No comments:

Post a Comment