Many priests know the experience of walking down the aisle for Sunday Mass and seeing a little child pointing at him while asking Mom, “Is that God?” While this has happened to me many times, one day it occurred to me that if I smile at a child who thinks I am God, then, to the child, God has smiled at him or her.
In the Gospel of Pentecost, when Jesus entered the room where the disciples were hiding on the evening of his resurrection, he greeted them with peace. He then breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:19-23).” His greeting and breathing over them could be described as God smiling on them. Having received the Holy Spirit, they were commissioned and empowered to bring the smile of God to the world.
Through Baptism and Confirmation, we have received the Holy Spirit. God has smiled at us through the presence of the Spirit in our lives. As a child could interpret a priest’s smile to mean God is smiling, we can bring God’s smile to others. Pentecost is a day to remember the tremendous capacity we have through our lives to help people see God’s smile through us.
Pentecost invites us to ask how we can bring God’s smile to the world. One way is to remember that it matters that we are here. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians that we all have something to contribute for the good of others (I Corinthians 12:3-13). We all have gifts, talents and abilities. Failure to use the gifts we have deprives others of our goodness. We bring God’s smile to the world by literally making an effort to smile at other people. Someone’s smile changes things. If we want to know how deeply ingrained in us is the desire to give and receive smiles, try staring at someone eyeball to eyeball and see how long it takes for one of you to break out in a smile. Mother Teresa said, “Peace begins with a smile.” Perhaps that is because no matter what language we speak, what country we are from or what religion we profess, we are drawn to the goodwill that a smile communicates. We rejoice this Pentecost as God’s smiles upon us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Our great privilege now is to bring God’s smile to the world.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, Rector