Pentecost and the World Cup

12th June 2014 - by Stephen Awre

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As the World Cup begins and with the feast of Pentecost still fresh in our hearts and minds, Fr. Tom O’Reilly compares the heightened interest among supporters in the fortunes of their country to the first Pentecost.

All who believed were together and had all things in common (Acts of the Apostles 2:44)

The World Cup is getting underway in Brazil and there is a heightened interest among supporters in the fortunes of their countries, some hoping that this will be their year to lift the trophy, others worrying about crashing out in the first round. People connect and relate more readily with those who wear the colours that symbolize their country’s spirit. It is said that sports stadia are the new cathedrals where people experience an intense feeling of togetherness in a common cause.

On the first Pentecost, there was an intense sense of togetherness in a common cause among those on whom the Holy Spirit descended. Language and cultural barriers were broken down and people began to communicate and relate freely. But, in contrast to the ardent experience of the sport’s fan, there was no strong national mentality with an inward focus. The Spirit impelled people to reach out together to those outside their own group. The common cause was not their own fortune, but an urge to bring to others the good news of Jesus Christ about God’s loving acceptance, compassion and forgiveness.

Columbans speak of their mission in terms of the Spirit’s impulse leading us to experience and build communion among peoples of different social, cultural and religious backgrounds.

In the latest Far East, we read of people who, inspired by the Spirit, both experience and build community – a Columban Companions in Mission group serving neglected communities in Fiji, mothers’ groups in Japan caring for families affected by radiation from the stricken Fukushima power plant, a Columban sister’s mission in Chile to rescue imprisoned addicts from the rivers of pain, and a Columban priest’s ministry setting up support groups in Peru for those living with HIV and AIDS. All of these are Pentecost experiences of Spirit-led togetherness in a common cause.

Pope Francis reminds us that all are called to be ‘Spirit-filled evangelizers’ by reason of our baptism. Through your generous support for Columban mission, you are with us in facilitating the Spirit’s work bringing people together and turning them to their brothers and sisters in need.

With gratitude for your support and assurances of our prayers,

Fr. Tom O’Reilly SSC
Regional Director for Britain