When Alfred Nobel discovered an explosive element that was stronger than anything the world had known at the time, he asked a friend and Greek scholar for a word that conveyed the meaning of explosive power. The Greek word was dunamis, and Nobel named his invention “dynamite.”
Dunamis is the same word that Jesus used when He told His disciples, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). In other words, “You shall receive explosive, dynamite power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
Peter’s Powerful Transformation
Think about how this power transformed the first-century believers. Prior to Pentecost, Simon Peter couldn’t stand up for his faith when strangers asked him if he was a follower of Jesus. After the power of the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost, Peter stood up and boldly preached the gospel, resulting in 3,000 people being saved.
After Saul of Tarsus was struck blind on the Damascus Road, God led Ananias to go and pray for him. He was then filled with the Holy Spirit, and from that moment on, he went out and proclaimed Christ in the synagogues.
What is the Explosive Vincentians Hold in Their Hands?
When sending forth his first missionaries, St. Vincent de Paul said “our vocation is to go, not just to one parish, not just to one diocese, but to all over the world, and to do what? To set people’s hearts on fire, to do what the Son of God did. He came to set the world on fire in order to inflame it with his love.”
Two hundred years ago, thirteen bold missioners carried that Pentecost fire to the United States. Bishop David O’Connell CM, one of their successors, wrote of them:
“…their fidelity was great, profound, inspiring, deeper, larger, more consequential than they ever imagined.
They set America “on fire” with Christ’s love; and the flame is still burning,
- burning for the poor and abandoned
- burning for those in formation for priestly ministry;
- burning for those in countless churches longing to hear God’s Word;
- burning in their confessionals, for those aching for God’s mercy;
- burning for those in schools and universities seeking knowledge and wisdom;
- burning in hospitals and prisons;
- burning for and with the Daughters of Charity and the wider Vincentian family;
- burning at home and in mission lands;
- burning for justice and peace and inclusion and wholeness and Christ’s love.
This has always been and remains our charism and our mission; our place and our role in the Church; our sermon in the pulpit and on the city’s streets.”
Each of the branches of the Vincentian Family can tell similar stories.
Let love light up my mortal frame until others catch the living flame.
Over fifty years ago I distributed a memorial card on the occasion of my ordination. I thought it was a saying of Vincent. I have since learned it was written by St. Ambrose of Milan and translated by Cardinal John Henry Newman.
Together “let love light up our mortal frames until others catch the living flame.”
Tags: Holy Spirit, Pentecost