1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13
When you walk through a storm keep your chin up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone, you’ll never walk alone.
"You’ll Never Walk Alone" is a show tune from the 1945 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical "Carousel." It puts into song and verse the impact of Pentecost. For fifty days, the disciples who had left everything to follow Jesus were anxiously awaiting the comforter he had promised. Occasionally he appeared to them, eating a morning meal of fish along the seashore, inviting Thomas to touch his wounds, inconspicuously walking with two of them on the road to Emmaus. But where was the promised comforter?
In the Acts of the Apostles we learn that on a day when they were all together a sudden noise like a driving wind filled the room and it appeared as if tongues of fire rested on each of them. In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul describes it as an awakening of unification and harmony. John’s Gospel portrays it as an experience of deep peace. Whatever metaphor you prefer, the Pentecost event revived the weary disciples with the conviction that they would never again walk alone. It was a moment of remarkable transformation when they experienced the peace of Christ.
Peace means different things to different people. For a soldier, peace is the absence of war. For the parents of an infant, peace can be a child asleep. For parents of teenagers, peace is a silent boombox. After a tough day, peace may be a sitting in a comfortable chair with feet propped-up and a glass of wine. Each of these is a facet of peace. But the peace of Christ is deeper than any of these. Jesus offered a peace the world cannot give. The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, is a state of wellbeing. It is a heart resting or dwelling in God.
Pentecost is not simply a feast honoring the Holy Spirit. It is the feast of Easter shared with the community of disciples. Jesus lived and died for Pentecost – to share with his disciples the same Spirit of peace which had enlivened him for 33 years. It was the Spirit dwelling within the cave of his heart where he frequently found refuge and comfort from the storms which blew into his life.
Like Jesus, though our dreams may be tossed and blown, we can walk on with hope in our hearts because we never walk alone. We never walk alone.
Fr. Joe Mitchell, CP, is the executive director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, Kentucky.