Two brand new work crews were installing new telephone poles along a county highway. At day's end, the foreman asked each crew how the day went and how many phone poles they completed. The first crew reported twelve poles were put into the ground. “That's a good day's work!” the foreman replied with a satisfied look on his face. But the second crew, when asked the same question, said “We put two poles into the ground.” “Only two poles for the entire work day?” questioned the foreman. “Yeah,” said the leader of the second crew, “but that other crew! You should have seen how much of the poles they left sticking out of the ground!”
In today's Gospel, I think Jesus' disciples, huddled in that locked Upper room, would have easily identified with the second crew, the one that buried the two telephone poles into the ground. Why? Because these disciple knew what it meant to make whopper mistakes in their lives, and make so many of them! When Jesus departed from their company, they must have been thinking of their past mistakes, failures and inadequacies. They must have felt overwhelmed. Then, looking ahead, they tried to imagine how they could go out and “teach all nations” the Gospel message that they themselves had clearly failed to understand. They were frozen in place in that Upper room, afraid of their own shadows, feeling helpless and hopeless.
But suddenly, a powerful wind erupts in that Upper room, followed by a burning flame that hovers over the heads of each of them. The Spirit comes upon them – the One promised them by Jesus, the One who is their forever Friend, their Advocate, the true Companion for their journey. This Spirit inspires them, showing them that despite their many misgivings and their unworthiness for the task, they will do what Jesus commanded them, and they will do it well.
The newly energized disciples emerge from that Upper room and immediately go to work under the Spirit's direction. Their fears dispelled, their hearts set free, they courageously proclaim Jesus' Gospel message. Like these first disciples of Jesus, we too have the Spirit abiding within us, giving us the same gifts given to them. The Spirit brings us two gifts that are especially needed today: wisdom and courage. 'Wisdom' means judging rightly, especially in difficult situations. 'Courage' means overcoming our fears and then acting in harmony with our wise judgments. Wisdom and courage are not very common or popular in our country today. Some of us are making unwise judgments out of fear and personal insecurities. Then we act out against other people whom we so often consider our enemies.
May the Holy Spirit, the Spirit abiding within each of us, be our Divine Teacher, calling us to wisdom of mind and courage of heart. Come, O Holy Spirit! Open our minds. Heal our hearts. We may not hear the powerful wind all around us, nor experience the burning flame over our heads. But we know You are here with us. You are in us, and we in You. We are your Living Temples. Inspire us. Inflame us! Energize us! Please! AMEN!