The Cenacle, which had seen the Apostles witnesses of the Lord’s Supper, is the place where they had been together to hear His Word many times and now the Cenacle becomes a refuge, a hiding place “for fear of the Jews” as the Evangelist John remembers. And the Acts say to us, “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” (Acts 2: 1).
We have to remember that the Apostles in Jerusalem had few friends because they had been opposed to religious and political power, and they were considered fanatical followers of one of the many messianic factions of the time. They threatened their lives to just preach that Jesus was the Son of God who was truly dead and truly resurrected. And in fact, the Acts tell us that soon the first martyr arrived: Stephen, who is stoned.
Today what are our fears, which make us lock in our groups? If we exclude the Church of the martyrs who, as we well know, still exists in many parts of the world today, we notice that there is also a strong temptation in the Church and among Christians to lock in an elite, often sectarian, excluding the world, seen as evil and an enemy of which to be afraid, and therefore tends to judge rather than love. It may happen that sometimes our faith, our Christian community, our ecclesial group, instead of being a space of fraternity and proclamation of the Gospel, turn into an impregnable fortress, where those in the interior judge the ones outside and also exclude them . “Outgoing Church” according to the teaching of Pope Francis also means not to be afraid and not to judge, but on the contrary be strong in the faith and widen the spaces of welcome.
It is in this climate of fear and closure that breaks the Spirit. “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.” (Acts 2: 1). In that cenacle that has become closed and frightened, the Spirit intervenes, acts and transforms it, changes the hearts of those deceived men and recreates a new fraternity extended to the ends of the earth. That is why everybody was talking in their native language, always remembering the Acts.
Even today the Spirit calls us to look forward, to open the spaces of our heart, to listen to the Word. The Gospel is not a script to be copied, the Church is not a museum to guard. The Christian community of the origins had the courage of the Spirit to welcome the un-circumcised, dared to write the Good News, and it was pilgrim to the boundaries of the known world. Today, it is our time to transmit ‘the Gospel that we have received’, without fear, shame, and wherever we go in this globalized world. “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” (Jn 14:26).
It is not a simple thing to witness the Church of Pentecost, because it is the Church of Joy (as the Blessed Pope Paul VI reminded us) but also of martyrdom. Nobody feels that we have not have to pay a price, even personal. On the contrary, living the gospel of sacred habits, locked in the sacristies, hidden behind the smell of incense is undoubtedly easier. The Spirit instead calls us to risk the paths of life, to walk the way (ódos), just as the Gospel is called in the Acts of the Apostles. The hardest language to speak is that of who we meet, who is facing us, who will be against us, perhaps believing they do well. The Spirit teaches us to talk about that too.