Barbara Sutton, D.Min.
Dr. Barbara Sutton is the Associate Dean for Formation and Outreach at Saint John’s School of Theology-Seminary in Collegeville, Minnesota and the Director of the Seeing The Word curriculum project. She reflects on the Illumination “Pentecost” from Acts 2:1-8, 12 and the discipleship practice of Prophet.
Illuminating the Encounter is a series of audio reflections focusing on our encounters with Christ, the church community and each other, as highlighted by the illuminations of The Saint John’s Bible.
Acts 1:6-11; 2:1-47
Masters of Divinity candidate at the Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary and Seeing the Word graduate assistant
Credit: Pentecost, Donald Jackson, Copyright 2002,The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
A Reflection on Pentecost (Acts 1:6-11, 2:1-47)
Rachel Gabelman, M.Div. Candidate
This illumination of Pentecost elicits a heightened sense of vitality. Notice the sharp tongues of fire that starkly contrast the free-flowing brushstrokes. To gaze upon the prominent gold band, which breaks through the cool colors in the atmosphere, is unsettling. This visual representation mimics how startling it can be when the Spirit enters into our hearts, dynamically transforming us, bestowing his creative energy upon us, and sending us out to evangelize all peoples. It is neither an easy nor predictable endeavor, but when we partner with the Spirit, we will be “amazed and astonished” (Acts 2:7) at what is possible. As Christians, we must always refer back to the moments of personal conversion in our lives so that our willingness to evangelize does not become stagnant. We must trust that the Spirit will give us the ability to draw others into the richness and fullness of human life and promote the restoration of peoples in unity with one another and with God.
Pope Francis teaches in Evangelii Gaudium that the Church grows through attraction when Christians “appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet” (15). He furthers his point when he exclaims that Christians must not appear to have just returned from a funeral (10). Perhaps instead we can imagine proclaiming the Good News to others utilizing the enthusiasm and vigor that we often witness in sports fans. In this illumination we see fans raising their arms and waving their flags at a St. John’s University football game. Parallel to the way that the fans’ enthusiasm is contagious, our spirited fervor for Christ increases the fervor in the lives of those around us. The Good News is not ancient history; it is alive and personal as well as communal. What experiences from your life and journey in faith can you recollect and renew so that all who encounter you will witness the glory and splendor of the Risen Lord?
Rachel Gabelman is a candidate for the Master of Divinity degree at the School of Theology and Seminary at Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN. She serves as the Graduate Assistant for the Seeing the Word project.