By Fr. Jame E Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
Some people find the game of baseball quite exciting. For others, it is boring. Whenever we factor the human condition into this game, there will be some unusual plays. To play the game effectively, every player must concentrate on each pitch. Everyone must be focused on what is happening at each moment. When the wind wanders, strange things happen.
One of the strangest plays took place many years ago in Ebbets Field, the razed park of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. The Dodgers had men on first and second with no outs. The batter hit a towering fly ball to right center. The runners stayed close to their bags, thinking that the ball would be caught. The batter forgot about the men already on base. He thought that he had hit a home run. So he lowered his head and charged around the bases. The two runners were on base were stunned. They couldn’t let the batter pass them on the base path or they would be out. They shouted at the batter to “go back, go back!” Just then the center fielder dropped the ball. Seeing the ball roll off his glove, all three men began running. The center fielder retrieved the ball and pegged it to home plate, just as all three runners arrived at third base. The catcher fired the ball back to third base. The runners did not know which man had the right to be at third base, so they all stepped off the third base bag. The third baseman then tagged each of the players for the most bizarre triple play in the history of baseball.
Imagine the thoughts and feelings of the three men as they returned to the dugout. They really wanted to head to the parking lot. In the dugout they felt lost, ashamed, and afraid. About all they could say was, “I was confused.”
Last week we left the apostles in a state of confusion. Jesus called them to the mountain top. There he gave them a mission – to go out to all peoples; to teach all peoples; to baptize all peoples. Then, Jesus disappeared. With Jesus out of sight, the apostles were lost, confused, afraid. All they could think of doing was – run and hide. And so they did. They hid in the upper room.
The apostles did not dare to walk the streets of Jerusalem. For three years they followed Jesus. When Jesus was crucified they were devastated. When Jesus rose from the dead they renewed their faith in him. Then, Jesus left them a second time at the Ascension. Now they were confused and they questioned their sanity. Were they fools to follow this person called Jesus?
Then came the third person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, upon Mary and the Apostles. It was an amazing day. A day when they were suddenly fortified. A day of excitement, wonderment and love.
Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, or, as they say in England, Whitsunday. It is a feast in our church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pentecost (“Pfingsten” in German), is the Greek for “the fiftieth” day after Easter. In England, people were baptized by immersion, not at the Easter Vigil but on the eve of Pentecost because the weather was warmer. The following day, Pentecost Sunday, the newly baptized would wear white garments. Thus the name Whitsunday or White Sunday. Every country celebrates this day in their own unique fashion. In France, they blow trumpets during Mass, reminding them of the sound of the wind as the Spirit descended.
Wind, fire, a whistling sound, a dove – these are all symbols of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is most frequently symbolized with wind. We feel it but cannot see it. Pentecost is also compared to a lawyer defending a person in court; or an advocate encouraging another.
A man accused of theft was being tried in court. His lawyer sat at his side. The defense was bogging down, so the lawyer launched a new, creative approach. He said, “All my client did was to insert his arm across the counter and into the cash register. He then removed a small sum of money. As a matter of fact, it was just his arm that committed this crime. My client’s arm can hardly be seen as my client. I don’t understand how you can punish the entire individual for a crime that was committed by a single limb.”
With a smirk on his face, the judge said to the lawyer, “You have stated the dilemma well. So by using your line of reason, I will only sentence the defendant’s arm to one year of imprisonment. As a courtesy to the defendant, he may either accompany his arm or he may not. The choice is his.
Upon the completion of his sentence, the judge sat back in his chair with a smug smile on his face. He had played along with the lawyer’s defense but had still outsmarted him. The defendant and lawyer smiled as well. With the assistance of his lawyer, the defendant detached his artificial limb on the bench. The judge could not believe what was happening in front of him. Then, the man accused of theft, said, ‘thank you’ to the judge and victoriously walked out of the courtroom a free man.
Next Saturday we will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation at the 5:00 p.m. Mass. We are calling upon the Holy Spirit to come down upon these people who are receiving this sacrament. With the grace of Confirmation they will continue to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.
Why does everyone stand up on the bottom of the 7th and using “take me out to the ball game” when they’re already there?
Congratulations Confirmation Candidates
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.