There is this inspiring story about a Vietnamese woman who was waiting her turn to be examined in a crowded hospital emergency room. She gradually became aware of a frustrating “non-conversation” being attempted a few seats down. A nurse was trying to ask a new patient for some details on her illness. The patient spoke Spanish. The nurse did not. The Vietnamese woman listened for a minute then realized that while she didn’t speak Spanish she did understand the broken-English bits and phrases the Spanish speaking patient offered as answers. Because of her own experience of learning to communicate in “broken
English,” the Vietnamese woman could hear the heart and gist of what this other woman was trying to say. The Vietnamese woman offered to “translate” the broken English of the Spanish speaker into something the nurse could understand. She was so successful at bridging the brokenness of their languages that eventually the Vietnamese woman was hired by the hospital as a kind of generic translator. After all, brokenness is the common language spoken by all hospital patients. What we see happened on Pentecost is the Holy Spirit speaking through the brokenness of the Apostles. Until then they didn’t realize that the Spirit promised to them by their Master after the last supper; the Spirit given to them by the risen Lord was there in their fear, doubt, disappointment and reluctance. In other words, the Holy Spirit was there in their brokenness. Finally this brokenness became the locus for the working of the Holy Spirit. The Power of the Holy Spirit was unleashed, radically transforming them, their ministry and the word. It happened on a Jewish holiday – the feast of Shavuat or in Greek Pentecost (50th day), fifty days after the Passover. Even in our days, Holy Spirit speaks through our brokenness to a broken world. If we can let the Holy Spirit speak through our brokenness with languages of Faith, Hope and Love, the Church will truly be a communion of healed families and communities. That’s when the Church is Lumen Gentium – the Light of the Nations.
– Fr. Abe