I don’t want to be that person and start a story this way, but I’m going to…
When I was in Rome (so pretentious) we stopped at a Church (some really nice one with an Italian name) and inside was a beautiful painting of the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles and what I really like about it was that all the apostles were wigging out but Mary looked serene.
I was reflecting on that today and then started googling pictures of Pentecost and trying to find a depiction where Mary looked as harried as the apostles.
Obviously I can’t claim to have checked every single piece of art that depicts Pentecost, but in all the ones I saw, Mary is keeping it calm.
I love the second one (click for full size) because let’s be real, if this happened I would totally be that disciple who is practically in the fetal position. But Mary’s cool with it because the Holy Spirit is her spouse.
So thinking more about that relationship makes me tired and I feel like I need a nap, but it’s a beautiful relationship for us to attempt to understand. Maybe not even attempt, maybe just admire.
In the Magnificat Mary has a line that has always seemed out of character to me and caused me to struggle in my understanding of the Blessed Mother. She says “from this day all generations will call me blessed”. Okay, Mary, we know you are a big deal. But she isn’t boasting or bragging, the Holy Spirit is inspiring those words, so in a way they aren’t her words; it seems out of character because it is.
When the Holy Spirit descends on the apostles they begin to speak in different tongues, using not their own words, to get a point across. The Holy Spirit is the giver of gifts, the Advocate, the Helper to us. The apostles are filled with the courage to leave their hidey-hole and boldly proclaim Christ. When the Spirit descends on Mary and her “soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord”, the Spirit is using her as instrument to proclaim the glory of God. It’s not a violation of our free will because gifts need to be accepted, we need to make an act in order to receive them.
So on this Pentecost we should turn to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to strengthen us, to have us be used as instruments of God’s glory and to have our own talents imbued with divine love. The Spirit uses those who freak out at His gift giving (apostles) and those who are calm about it (Mary).