I joke with my students that my office is strictly a “no white Jesus” zone. One, because white Jesus is not historically accurate. Two, because our sacred spaces are so full of white Jesus and white Mary statues and paintings that we don’t realize that it’s not historically accurate. Rather, I’ve filled my office with images of Jesus and Mary, Saints and angels in all colors and genders and in a full range of emotions.
What I love about Pentecost is that it is a celebration of difference and the awesomeness of God. Before Jesus ascended into heaven after his time back on Earth, he left the disciples with the Holy Spirit. In fact, as we hear in today’s Gospel, Jesus breathed on them. Then later, when it was time for Pentecost, tongues of fire rested on each one. The reception of the Holy Spirit to the disciples was an embodied experience.
When the disciples began to preach to the crowd that had gathered, the people from all different lands and faiths could hear in their own native tongue. What’s more, each person was imbued with their own gifts and abilities to work and serve. God is at once so personal and at the same time so communal.
I think back to Genesis when God breathed life into human kind and declared that we were good. Pentecost is a time where God is breathing on us again, giving us a renewed life, reminding us all that we are good; in all our differences, in all our bodies, in all our cultures, in all our genders, in all the ways that we love.
You are called to love so deeply and so intentionally with the gifts that only you have. Your body is a part of the body of Christ. Your body is good. You are good.
Teresa Marie Cariño Petersen is an educator and activist particularly interested in racial justice and embodiment. She currently works as a campus ministry teacher at Sacred Heart Prep, Atherton where she teaches social ethics and coordinates the immersion program. She credits her faith that does justice formation to ISN and is an alum of St. Ignatius (San Francisco), the University of San Francisco, and (soon to be) Jesuit School of Theology. She also served as a Jesuit Volunteer in New York City 13’-14’ and worked at two Jesuit parishes. Teresa also serves on the board of the National Catholic Reporter.
Find her on Instagram @teresamariecarino