Pentecost Sunday is fast approaching and I find myself reflecting on what it must have been like to be with the apostles that day, locked away in an upper room. Although they had experienced our Lord’s resurrection first-hand, He was now gone, having ascended into heaven 10 days earlier. I’m sure they must have wondered what would happen next. They had to have asked themselves “What now?”
This was a fateful moment for us because it truly marks the birth of our Church. Had the apostles been left on their own, maybe they would have drifted from their mission, keeping all that they had seen and heard within their hearts. Thankfully, it did not come to that. The Spirit washed over them and so began the work of handing down our redemption, generation to generation, across the world. Until then the apostles had been mostly receivers of the word, relying on Jesus for instruction. Now they finally understood that they themselves would be “fishers of men,” responsible for spreading the Good News. I liken it to when a mother lets her child walk on his or her own, an “ah-ha” moment that opens up a whole new world.
To be sure, in both deed and word, Jesus had tried to prepare them for this path. He Himself did not remain in one place, waiting for those who needed help to come find Him. Instead, He “went about doing good and healing” (Acts 10:38) and commanded His disciples, “Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find” (Matthew 22:9).
As CEO of Catholic Charities here on Long Island, I find this message especially significant. Often regarded as “America’s first suburb,” our island was heavily shaped by the advent of automobiles. That’s why our neighborhoods, from Elmont to Montauk, are crisscrossed by highways, parkways, and roadways. We at Catholic Charities maintain that each leads to God’s love. Each and every day we heed the call to come out of that locked room and into the world to be our Lord’s disciples in this time and in this place.
You see, Catholic Charities has grown with the neighborhood, and as the population spread across the island, so did we. With more than 65 sites and working hand-in-hand with parish social ministry teams in 114 parishes, the charitable work of our Church can be felt in virtually every community throughout Long Island. Yet we are much more than a series of offices, we are a network of caring individuals found in every neighborhood of Long Island. We are unified by the simple desire to let people know that they are loved and when someone can’t come to us, we take that love to them. Not many people know that we have a fleet of over 70 vehicles that travels more than 1,000,000 miles per year, doing everything from delivering hot meals to the homebound to transporting those with disabilities! The Holy Spirit is alive and well at Catholic Charities and is what moves us to go “about doing good.”
Pentecost Sunday is right around the corner and maybe you’re asking yourself, “What now?” Maybe you’re waiting for the Holy Spirit much as the apostles did. If so, I invite you to reflect on the work your support makes possible at Catholic Charities right here on Long Island. Learn about the good you help make happen and see the Holy Spirit at work. It might just be an “ah-ha” moment.