The process has changed very little in the last 3,000 year. Perhaps you have watched it happen in Lancaster or Toledo. A long, narrow metal tube is dipped in a pot of sand, soda, lime and any number of metal and chemicals. Then the artisan blows carefully into the tube to create a bubble – and glass is formed.
As the artisan continues to blow into the tube, the glassmaker will shape and form the bubble into the final piece – a vase, a bowl, a pane of glass. During the shaping process, the piece is frequently returned to the furnace in order to keep it soft enough to work.
By the breath of the glassblower and the fire of the kiln, sand is transformed into glass. Glass of beautiful color and transparency. Glass that protects and preserves. Glass that warms and illuminates.
In story of Pentecost, which the Church will celebrate on Sunday, the Spirit of God is experienced in images of breath and fire. The Hebrew word for “Spirit” is ruah, meaning breath or air.
The Gospel of Pentecost tells us that after Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to the Apostles, and breathing on them, said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Just as He did on Pentecost, Jesus wants to breathe God’s energy into our hearts each and every day. The spiritual dynamic that was present on that first Pentecost, moving people to love God, to seek out holiness, and to come together as church, is still at work today.
In the Pentecost story in his Acts of the Apostles, Luke describes “tongues” of fire appearing to “rest” on each of the Apostles. Such “fire” drives them to articulate what they had seen and heard and experienced in their encounter with the Risen Jesus. That same Spirit dwells within us, as Divine Life. The Spirit is given for the sake of mission, just as it was given to the Apostles, – to proclaim the gospel, to be molded as disciples, and ultimately to worship God.
On Pentecost, we celebrate the Spirit of God within our own hearts and dwelling within the Church. The breath of God giving life to us and enlivening us in his grace to live lives of compassion and mercy. The fire of God forming us into his people of humble service and selfless generosity, reflecting the life of the Risen Jesus.
Take some time today, and every day through Pentecost Sunday, to stop and take in a few deep breaths. In your mind, imagine yourself breathing in the Holy Spirit and breathing out your sin. Know that what you are breathing in is pure, holy, and intoxicating.
Then, take a minute to pray Saint Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit. “Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may be holy. Move in me Holy Spirit that my work too may be holy. Attract my heart Holy Spirit that I may love what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.”
Know that you are welcome to join us at Saint John Bosco as we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost. On Saturday evening Mass is at 4:00 pm. On Sunday morning Masses are at 8:30 and 11:00 am.
If you are unable to be with us this weekend – think about joining us on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25 for Mass at 8:30 am in the church.
A few questions for reflection – The testimony I give of the Risen Jesus is . . . The Spirit leads me to . . . I glorify the Risen Jesus when . . .