Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit!
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews..."
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit inspired me to reflect on a complex subject. Yes, I know that we adorn ourselves with the festive color, red, and beckon the Holy Spirit to come and renew the face of the earth. But sometimes, ministry can be messy.
My soul, soiled by the news that Quintin Jones became the 570th victim executed in Texas, made me cry out, "Come, Holy Spirit."
This total dates back to 1982 and averages a little over one person executed each month. These individuals created by God, who breathed God's spirit, were administered a lethal drug dose to extinguish their lives.
What stained my spirit to the utmost was that Quintin Jones, and perhaps others, sought clemency. And yes, some records indicate that several individuals received mercy when they asked. How long will the United States continue to lock the prison door cells and pick and choose who must leave this earth?
We have a broken criminal justice system in this country.
Honestly, how can you rehabilitate offenders when they are dead? Must we be like the disciples and live in fear? Is playing God our best option, playing favoritism, granting mercy to the privileged? Oh come, Holy Spirit and renew the face of the earth.
St Paul said it best:
"I, Paul, write you this greeting in my own hand. Marana tha"
(1 Corinthians 16:21-22).
The words Marana tha, in Aramaic, mean “The Lord is coming”, or “Come, O Lord”. When the early church experienced persecution of any kind, they would greet each other with these words, Marana tha.
Therefore, I greet you with these words: Marana tha!
I pray that the Lord will show us his hands and side to embrace our brothers and sisters. The wisdom from Sirach recognizes that we must have compassion for our neighbors:
"but the Lord's compassion reaches all flesh, reproving, admonishing, teaching, and turning them back, as a shepherd his flock"
May we, too, extend peace to not only those nearest to us but to our neighbors in prison. We must find ways to hold lawmakers or government officials accountable, even though their ideas may differ from ours. We must find a better way to treat our neighbors in the criminal justice system.
In the end, let's pray that the stranger or foreigner will have peace when seeing Jesus' hands in our hands. Let us give an authentic witness so that they can see the Jesus in us and see that God loves them.
Come, Holy Spirit. Let's rejoice like the disciples in our Gospel because we allow the Holy Spirit to renew us first and then the whole world.
This article was originally published on Eat The Scroll Ministry.
Michael Howard, MA is the founder of Eat the Scroll Ministry, which conducts retreats, Bible study programs, and revivals. He facilitates and teaches online courses for the University of Dayton and is married to Charlene, who on many occasions accompanies him in ministry. They have four children and four grandchildren.