It was the day of Pentecost, though the disciples did not yet know that it would come to be known as that. The doors were locked, for fear of the authorities; the disciples were in turmoil, uncertain of what was to come and unsure of the meaning of what they had experienced in the years that had just passed.
They were afraid. They had thought that life was going to be changed forever, and instead their hopes had mostly died as they saw, from afar, Jesus on the cross.
Yes they had seen him since then. But even that they must have doubted. Was it really him? What did it mean? How could it be possible? The mind plays such tricks when you are in distress. They must have half-talked themselves out of the hope that had come from the fish on the beach and from the road to Emmaus.
They were afraid and the doors were closed. I don't like being in that spot. I'm sure I'm not alone in having that experience - closing out people or experiences or opportunities because something has happened to create uncertainty about what is to come or confusion about the meaning of an experience.
'The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity . . .'
How many people leave the Church because of those things, or end their relationships, leave their jobs, reject their friends, because fear rises up in a time of uncertainty.
Fear is not the only cause of closed doors, however; ignorance, greed, selfishness, anger and many other realities also close doors. They manifest in many forms - judgment, pride, prejudice, even contraception. And closed doors lead to the same set of consequences, regardless of their form: loss, isolation and hopelessness.
It was the day of Pentecost and the disciples were hiding behind locked doors when Jesus appeared in their midst. The locked doors were not an obstacle to him for they were not barred to keep him out. He came into their midst to bring the uniting and empowering gift of the Holy Spirit.
That is good news indeed; for it is that liberating gift which transformed the fearful disciples into the men who changed human history by their testament, their proclamation of the truth of God's love.
It was the turning point, the day ordinary men received the spark of divine love that guided them into all truth, gave them authority, comforted and advocated on their behalf. This was the day they were united in a new way, for each of them carried within them not only the image of God, but the same Spirit of God.
Sometimes I think we expect far too little. I'm sure we fear too much. I know the closed doors in each life can often feel insurmountable, unchanging.
Pentecost is a day of hope, for again, we get another chance to say to Jesus, "Come." Come into our midst, come into our hearts. Bring the fire of your love, the power of your Spirit to transform us into the people who will proclaim you by the lives we lead.
(Kathleen Giffin firstname.lastname@example.org)