By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ & Director, CREDI
Let us welcome the Holy Spirit on this Pentecost Sunday and open our hearts to be renewed by the Spirit.
My heart was filled with joy as I saw images in the media of citizens assisting Venezuelans who were queuing to register. As stated in the Trinidad Express, June 1: “Venezuelans were not the only ones who came out yesterday on the first day of the two-week registration exercise at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain. Amid the crowd were a few Trinidad and Tobago citizens who felt moved to help the migrants in whatever way they could. There were those providing snacks and water, translation services and even one offering free transport into Port of Spain…”
Newsday reported: “…Good Samaritans brought bottles of water, packs of juice, and food. Not many however, were charitable. Cars passing by, slowed with people inside shouting ‘Get out we country!’ and, ‘allyuh go back home’.”
In spite of such negative comments, I know that the majority of citizens are hospitable. Let us strive to promote unity in diversity and to remember our own history and how our forebears welcomed any outstretched hands that offered assistance to them.
My own maternal grandmother came to T&T from Venezuela years ago. Pope Francis says: “Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, in our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?”
In his homily, Dominican Friar, Fr John Patrick Kenrick, wonders what difference Pentecost makes. He says: “Jesus was molding his disciples into a community bound by particular values and nourished by the love of God at work in him. St Augustine reminds us that a community is united by the things it loves, the values that its members share.
“When we look at our own society, we can see that in many ways we have ceased to be a true community of people who share the same values. It might still be possible to find genuine pockets of community here and there but these days many people lead very private if not lonely lives motivated by largely individualistic values.
“When things start to go wrong in the complex societies we inhabit, it is tempting to think that instead of examining our values we should simply have fewer of them. And so we hear it said that the solution for a fragmented society is to encourage people to be less religious and less assertive of their particular cultural heritage.
“Secular society seems to be very confused about its values and even religious people are affected by this public confusion. Even some Christians express the quaint view that there is no such thing as objective truth. Jesus provides us with the model of a true human community…
“The advent of the Spirit meant that God would not only dwell with us but even within us, enabling us perfectly to follow the Son in all that he taught. That is why Pentecost was necessary and that is why the Church, at its best, is that perfect community for which all human beings long.
“Communities are united by their common values but a perfect community requires the presence of the Holy Spirit in each one of us, binding us together in perfect love. That perfect community is certainly to be found in heaven but even here on earth we can help to build it by communicating the merciful love of God to our own society and to the whole world.”
Let us pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon this nation, so that we will embrace values that will enable us to build God’s Kingdom here on earth.
“The Holy Spirit is the fire of love burning in the Church and in our hearts… Let us ask him: ‘Spirit of God, Lord, who dwell in my heart and in the heart of the Church, guiding and shaping her in diversity, come! Like water, we need you to live. Come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us. Amen’” (Pope Francis).