A touch: At the driving school on 14th of May 2016 I was a bit anxious before my practical exam because it was the last chance to pass. As it was getting time, the students were all anxious and were restless. I too had my anxiety and I was trying to prepare myself for the exam and I was very silent that day praying to the Holy Spirit and Mother Mary of course. Suddenly I realized that there was a hand warmly touching my hand. I looked up to see Mr. Marco the youngest of our instructor Mr. Franco, touching me with a reassuring smile. He just touched me in a very affectionate way and left without uttering a word.
I could immediately sense the comfort and warmth that touch brought to me. And within 10 minutes we are asked enter a hall for preparation but all through this process I could pulse the impact that touch had on my being. And as I began driving I experienced a great serenity till the last minute of the exam which I got through this time. The impact of that touch was continuing.
Why did that person touch me that way? When I shared this experience with Br. Martin Torres, the Guardian of the General Curia, who planned the vigil for the Pentecost this year said with spontaneity: "it was the touch of the divine." Remember the similar experiences you might have had in your life. And Pentecost is an experience which touches people deeply. There are different interpretations to this great feast for both the Jews and the Christians.
For the Jewish people it is a great Feast of their liberation (exodus) from the slavery, Feast of the Tents and then Thanksgiving. It is a time of harvest when the people came together to celebrate and sing the praises of God who has blessed their land. There are three great festivals for them during which every Jew has to present himself before the presence of God. They are the feast of unleavened bread, Feast of the week and the Feast of the Tabernacles. It is also said to be a feast that reminded Israelites about the covenant that God made with His people. And it was a closer manifestation of God's grace and presence among the people, a theophany. People started to realize the presence of God close in their midst. It was a time of a Holy pilgrimage in order to meet the God who unites his people. Normally it was difficult to understand people who speak different languages. But here people were able to understand what the other was speaking although they came from a different background.
A Christian Experience
For the Christians it is the descending of the Divine Power that is the Holy Spirit on the expectant Apostles who trusted in the promise of Jesus who said that he will send a helper and a great counsellor. (Act 1:4-14). They were waiting in prayer. At that juncture it was an experience which transcended the ordinary human experience. They personally experienced the grace of God entering their lives and filling them with new motivation and happiness. As Christian traditions bear witness the coming of the Divine Power upon them brings liberation and new life. Pentecost empowers them with the new enthusiasm to live the way showed by Jesus. And it becomes an experience for many to follow. This Feast also reminds us that the guidance/presence of the Holy Spirit could liberate us from all kinds of confusions and troubles. It gives them an experience of personally relating to God calling Him as our 'abba'. With the coming of the Holy Spirit a Christian is entitled to personally commune with God and call on God using a personal language of a child who affectionately call him as 'abba.'
From these two religions it is clear that the believers are brought together by deep experiences where they are transformed. We need good celebrations to understand the blessings we are/have and also to pray together as one family. A meaningful celebration brings joy, sharing, healing and able unites the hearts.
Pope Francis said the following in Evangelii Gaudium: At Pentecost, the Spirit made the apostles go forth from themselves and turned them into heralds of God's wondrous deeds, capable of speaking to each person in his or her own language. The Holy Spirit also grants the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness (parrhesía) in every time and place, even when it meets with opposition. (no. 259)
In his homily for this year's Pentecost (May 15th 2016) our Pope Francis said the following:
"I will not leave you orphans". Today, on the feast of Pentecost, Jesus' words remind us also of the maternal presence of Mary in the Upper Room. The Mother of Jesus is with the community of disciples gathered in prayer: she is the living remembrance of the Son and the living invocation of the Holy Spirit. She is the Mother of the Church. We entrust to her intercession, in a particular way, all Christians, families and communities that at this moment are most in need of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Defender and Comforter, the Spirit of truth, freedom and peace.
Responding to the Pope the Spirit driven church and we Capuchins have to engage ourselves in the world, especially in bringing hope to the persons and places that lack this. And specially go to the place where no one likes to go today and meet people who have nothing in return to give to us. Evangelii Gaudium, nos. 33, 80, and 88
Have you personally experienced the Divine Touch in your life? Let us ask the Spirit of God to melt and mold us to be relevant and committed Capuchins.
[The above picture is from our Generalate Chapel, Rome and on 14th night we had a vigil prayer service, lead by Br. Martin Torres, where the whole fraternity, prayed for the Church, Capuchin Order and for the whole world ].