Pentecost Reflection

As Close As Our Breath by Richard Rohr

Jesus said t them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this. he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21-22).

God has been trying through all of history to give away God. Jesus shows us that the gift is free and totally available, as available as our breath. It seems that God has hard time giving away God, however, because most of us aren’t interested. We’re interested in other things: money and power and success and good looks and politics. It takes a long time to get around to the one thing we were created for.

If you’ve ever ridden on the subways in London, before the doors open and you get out of the train, they say, “Mind the gap,” When the doors open, it’s written in big words in front of every door: “Mind the gap.” It means, of course, that there are a few inches between the doors and the sidewalk, and they don’t want anyone to fall in that gap. In teaching on the Holy Spirit, what we need to do is “mind the gap” – because the Holy Spirit fills the gaps of everything.

First, we need to be aware that there usually is a gap. There’s a space because we don’t recognize that Gofdis as available to us as our breath. We always allow God, by our own silliness and stupidity, to be distant, to be elsewhere. We always find a gap between ourselves and our neighbour., between ourselves and almost everything. We therefore feel quite lonely and isolated in this world. Without some awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence, frankly, we’re not connected to anything or anybody. We just live an isolated life.

The Holy Spirit within us is the desire inside all of us that wants to keep connecting, relating, and communing. It isn’t above us. It isn’t beyond us – it is within us. It’s available as our breath, and that’s why the Risen Christ gives the Holy Spirit by breathing upon the disciples. He’s saying, in effect, “Here it is! Can you breathe in what I have breathed out?” As we grow on the journey, we’ll begin to experience that breath, that Spirit, as if it is the very air. It’s everywhere, all the time, and we can’t live one minute without it. Isn’t it amazing that air, the thing that’s most essential, most invisible to most people, is the one thing that’s everywhere all the time and free? The Holy Spirit likewise has been given to us freely.