“Stephen, Stephen, it is Sunday! Hurry up, get out of that bed. It is time to go to church! Hurry up! Hurry up!” And Stephen, still under the covers, mumbled: “I do not want to go!”
“What do you mean you do not want to go to church?” answered his mother. “That is pure nonsense. Now, hurry up, get up, get dressed and go to church!”
Stephen answered: “No! I do not want to go and I will give you two good reasons why I do not want to go.” He sat up in bed and continued: “First, I do not like them and second, they do not like me.”
“Now do not be silly. You have to get up and go to church, and I will give you two valid reasons why you must go. First of all, you are now forty two years old and, secondly you are their pastor!”
It seems that the apostles, once that Jesus had been raised to heaven, were very much like Stephen. Like Stephen they chose to hide: Stephen from his congregation and the apostles from the Jews and the crowd. Stephen was afraid to face his congregation while the apostles were scared to death because of the Jewish leaders. The apostles could have said what Stephen said: “We do not like them and they do not like us.”
Perhaps also we try to do likewise. We choose to do whatever we need to do quietly and then we retire to “our home”, to the place where we feel safe.
The apostles stayed locked up in hiding till they received the Holy Spirit, because then, empowered and spurned by the Holy Spirit they left their hiding place and went out to fulfil the mission given to them by their Master before being raised into heaven. They went out and started announcing and witnessing to one and all that Jesus Christ is the Messiah of God... and they made a difference. The Acts of the Apostles tell us that on that day more than three thousand were baptized.
We were also given the same commission of the apostles and also we are supposed to be witnessing to the Risen Lord with our lives to one and all. What are we doing about this mission Jesus gave us?
Are we scared to speak about Jesus because we are afraid of being told off? Are we afraid of being side-lined or else labelled as out of touch with reality? We do not like them and they do not like us?
Perhaps we are not aware that we have received the same Holy Spirit that the apostles had received. We received him in our Baptism and then with greater power in our Confirmation. Then, why are we afraid of being Christ’s witnesses with our lives? Why aren’t we making a difference in society?
Our mission is to proclaim to one and all the Good News that God is your Father and my Father: the Father of all. We have to proclaim the Good News that notwithstanding everything, God loves us and is going to keep loving us even if choose not to.
We have the mission to strive so that all people will be one family and we live as brothers and sisters in spite of the differences due to culture, beliefs, language and status.
We have the mission to pull down the walls that separate us in “us” and “them”, males and females, rich and poor, white and black, and strive we all end up speaking the same language: the language of love.
We need the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is like the battery in the torch-light which is our life. If we slide the switch to ON the battery will be activated and the lamp will light up. If we keep the switch on the OFF position, the battery will not be allowed to do its job and the lamp will stay unlit. The battery is there, but with the switch in the OFF position, we are hindering it in doing its job.
It is the same with the Holy Spirit! We have already received Him with the same power as when it was outpoured on the apostles, but are we letting Him work in our life?
Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts and kindle in them the fire of your love.