FR. AYODELE AYENI CsSP
May 21, 2012
The idea of Christian universality recommends itself to us after Easter. Next Sunday is Pentecost when human diversity is brought into harmony, when difference is not the synonym of disagreeability.
How fitting to celebrate the end of Eastertide with Pentecost. It is important to know that Christ died for us to create one single community for himself and his Father – a community in the image of the Trinity.
How does one create a community in an individualistic world of the 21st century? Recently, some parishioners offered me a gift of an iPad for my birthday. May God bless them immensely.
However, their gift set me thinking: Why is that gadget called an iPad? We have iTunes, iPhones, iPod, etc. Why iPhone instead of "wePhone"?
While Steve Jobs and Apple celebrate individuality, Pentecost invites us to celebrate the communal aspect of our society, to create a community of peoples, not individuals, to connect to one another's heart and soul, to become one.
You belong to a community if you are missed when you are not around. You belong to a community if you have the interest and growth of that community at heart and you show it by working for that community. We need a "wePhone" – a gathering of peoples sharing their lives and being present to one another.
Christ died to put to death iPhones, to resurrect the wePhone. Pentecost creates a wePhone – one human community.
Cosmopolitanism – the acceptance of the humanity of others – is alive today, thanks to the academia; globalization through the communication superhighway has brought us iPads and smartphones; "reasonable accommodation – accommodement raisonnable" makes Canada an immigration friendly country.
But when will Christianity be "accommodated" or "cosmopolitanized"? Pentecost is the answer. On Pentecost, the Jews and Arabs or the Middle Easterners were present, the Greeks and Romans or Europeans were in attendance, Cyreneans and Egyptians or Africans were represented and the Asians were not forgotten either.
The secular world is catching up with the Christian world in many fronts: cosmopolitanism, globalization, information technology, etc. But will Christianity continue to be the vanguard of unity and solidarity among men and women, races and cultures, languages and nationalities?
The Jewish feast of remembrance of the giving of the Torah – Pentecost – was transformed by Christians into a universal celebration of global unity or world Church.
The first century Pauline baptismal formula – "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3.28) – which rendered irrelevant racial, ethnic, social, and gender divides, while proclaiming unity and solidarity in Christ, is the precursor to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, globalization and cosmopolitanism.
Cosmopolitanism has its crusaders in the academia, parliaments and the media. The courts and alternative dispute centres arbitrate on human rights. Multinational corporations make sure that globalization goes beyond frontiers.
The only orphan is Pentecost. Can we experience a new Pentecost today? Of course, yes.
Acts 2 manifests the "springtime" of the Church and the world – the world that killed and buried its Saviour, Jesus Christ. The world that rejects truth and celebrates moral decay and economic quandary, can be renewed, not only in the resurrection of Christ, but also through the rejuvenation of the Spirit at Pentecost.
Life springs forward at Pentecost. Pentecost is the catalyst and dynamite that empowers all believers to live up to their maximum potential.
To consolidate the gains of Christianity and the universality of Pentecost, we must become "Pentecostals." To become "Pentecostals," we must become 21st century confessors – those who do not shy away from affirming and living out what we believe.
Pentecost is an orphan because most Christians have devised the "11th Commandment – thou shall not be caught." The media has a field day because people wear masks – you do not know people until the media takes off their masks.
The universalism proclaimed by Pentecost does not depend on others, it depends on me: Am I ready to take off my mask and be seen for who I am? There is no community, except one of falsehood, when everyone wears a mask.
The community of the Pentecost is a community of siblings – where each one is born, seen and accepted in nakedness. Only the naked truth builds a community. Pentecost gives us courage, the courage for honesty and truthfulness.
Yes, the honesty to build a community of brothers and sisters in Christ – our wePhone.
Spiritan Father Ayodele Ayeni is a sessional lecturer at Newman Theological College and pastor of Mary Help of Christians (Chinese) Parish in Edmonton.