These blessed days in the Church’s calendar draw our attention to prayer. Last Thursday, we reverently and gratefully recalled the Ascension of Jesus, returning to His Father in heaven forty days after His Resurrection from the dead.
What did the bewildered, scared, confused apostles do upon Our Lord’s Ascension into heaven? They took our Blessed Mother Mary, locked themselves into a room, and . . . prayed! That prayer demanded perseverance, because it took nine days for Jesus to reply. The response He gave to that patient prayer of His Mother and best friends was beyond their most exalted hopes: the Holy Spirit! God the Father and God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit, and, the Church was born on Pentecost.
That’s what prayer can accomplish. The Church was founded by Jesus as a reply to the trusting prayer of His disciples; The Church is in the business of prayer.
No surprise to us, then, that our Holy Father announced, last weekend during his pastoral visit to the tense Middle East, that he had invited the presidents of the Palestinian territory and of Israel to come to Rome and pray with him. They accepted!
So, this Sunday – - Pentecost! - – will find a Catholic, a Jew, and a Moslem together in the Eternal City in a posture similar to that of the apostles and our Lady: prayer!
Some in the world have snickered. After all, the cynics claim, these three men have no “clout.” One, Pope Francis, has no troops to send, no currency to float, no arms to supply, no threats to make; another, the President of Israel, has a largely ceremonial role and is soon to leave office; the President of the Palestine authority lacks a solid base or united country to lead.
Not much reason for hope in the worldly cachet of these three leaders, is there?
Yet, we’ve come to learn that merely earthly solutions have not worked all that well. A total dependence upon arms, violence, money, or even diplomacy, has often turned into a dead end.
To behold three leaders turn for awhile from an exclusive reliance upon earthly remedies, to acknowledge that divine inspiration and conversion of hearts is essential, could turn things around. Anybody have a better idea?
Our Pentecost Prayer – - “Come, Holy Spirit!” – - will be particularly fervent, as we hold up the needs of these three leaders.