All of us acknowledge unfinished business, some of us moreso than others. This situation largely derives from our propensity to defer to tomorrow what we can easily enough do today. Admittedly, much of this is trivial, so few significant setbacks are suffered from this practice, but periodically this tendency of ours does result in some unfortunate situations, both for ourselves, and also for others.
For example, we can be in contractual relationships with others, as in business arrangements, and we can ill afford to run a successful business where time and punctuality are of the essence of an operation. But even in more intimate, personal relationships, constant reneging on an agreement to do such and such for a friend or a family member can weaken the bonding among us, and leave us with a humiliating acknowledgment of our tendency toward unfinished business.
Of course, there are situations where we have no other option than to defer to a later time what we had initially intended, or even agreed, to do earlier. On such occasions all we can do is to take responsibility and make amends, by carrying out the earlier agreement as soon as feasible. Since such situations victimize us all, we often receive an understanding response from those we have failed—provided this doesn’t become habitual. We must keep the “out” bin on our desk as active as the “in” bin frequently becomes.
But, as is sometimes the case, there is no good reason why we have deferred our follow through on our initiatives. This may puzzle even us, as we ask ourselves: why did I fail to do this? We might give serious consideration to the possibility that some of the souls in purgatory are there precisely because of the unfinished business that has accumulated around them. Likely the great Italian poet Dante (would have) assigned a special place in his panoramic DIVINE COMEDY for those who passed on to the next life, and who have had to compensate for unfinished business in their lifetimes, because they reasoned: why do today what I can delay till tomorrow?
The great feast of Pentecost is upon us. It’s an occasion for coming to terms, even at the level of religious faith, with the inroads that unfinished agendas have made into our lives. Unfortunately, most of us are mystified as to why the church insists on regarding it on a par with days like Christmas and Easter. But the church does so. She regards Pentecost as the birthday of the church, and the culmination of Christ’s coming among us to establish His kingdom. He taught us to pray: “…Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. The church was part of the rationale for Christ making His appearance among us. It is the marvelous extension of His presence in our midst, and the occasion for introducing us to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity: the Holy Spirit. This achievement facilitated His return to the heavenly Father, knowing that His life’s work was now in good hands.
For the Holy Spirit continues what the Son had initiated, and, in doing so, is a good example of unfinished business being passed on in a fruitful and beneficial way. For we know from Jesus’ own words that He had many more things to teach us than He could do in the time allotted to Him. (Jn 16.12-14). In fact, even the initiatives He began never came to our awareness because they never made their appearance in the Book that already recorded so much of what He had said and done during His brief time among us. (Jn 21.25) So, even in the case of Jesus, there was an agenda to be carried out, but not enough time for Him to do so: unfinished business. But He would provide for this, telling us not to worry, because He would send the Holy Spirit, the Adocate, among us to bring to mind the things He had taught us. (Jn 14.26 ).
Here we have the job description of the Holy Spirit. He is the memory of the church, to safeguard against the accumulation of too much unfinished business. Sometimes, those prone to memory loss don’t realize that this is happening to them. The Holy Spirit is our safeguard against this in church matters, but, unfortunately, the Holy Spirit Himself is at times the victim of oversight and faulty memory on our part. For we often don’t think of Him or call upon Him. He is the forgotten Person of the Blessed Trinity. Strangely enough, we forget the One Who is our memory, responsible for all the unfinished business that Christ left behind at the time of His ascension into heaven. Fortunately, there is a backup system in place, the hierarchy of the church, especially the Pope, to safeguard and preserve, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, this treasure trove of wealth, both old and new (Mt 13.52). In this way, the church offsets an accumulation of unfinished business. This is why we see such significance in the feast of Pentecost. It compensates for our amnesia and loss of memory by reminding us of the help available, the “apps”, so to speak, that can link us up with that invaluable source of information that is now entrusted to the Holy Spirit, for our benefit and enrichment