I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now" (John 16:12).
The movie title "The Man Who Knew Too Much" captures something of the dilemma faced by prophets, mystics and visionaries.
Paul was certainly one of them, and his carefully crafted speech to an audience of sophisticated Greek philosophers in Athens falls flat when he mentions the resurrection of Jesus. They, being fashionable skeptics, were not about to be evangelized by this clever Jew from Tarsus. Paul's cosmic solution to the problem of death would have required conversion, and they were not ready to submit to any act of faith.
Jesus tries to prepare his disciples for his departure, and he knows that they will not be able to bear the full revelation of his coming suffering or their own participation in his death and resurrection. They will need the help of the Holy Spirit. What Paul later grasped as the Paschal Mystery would only be understood over time as the church accepted the redemptive role it was to play in turning history in a different direction. Has any age ever been been ready to accept God's revolution of the heart to bring justice and love to bear on its structures and cultural values?
Pope Francis might have been a successful politician for his skills at proposing a transformative vision to a world desperate for reform. But Francis is not a politician. He is a prophet who must challenge the world to more than a utopian or humanitarian program of change. He is a preacher who must hold up the crucified and risen Christ as the meaning of history. His burden is to warn an unjust, wasteful and arrogant post-modern world that it is courting doom by not repenting of its extravagances and inequalities, its destructive patterns of consumption and abuse of the poor. Who can bear such a message, or even take it seriously?
As the community of the baptized, we must bear it and become prophets ourselves, for our own sake and the sake of our children. This is beyond us, of course, an impossible charge to our battered church and its shallow commitment to change as collaborators who benefit from the way things are.
This is why Pentecost is necessary. We already know too much and it is too late to turn back. So fasten your seatbelts and put on a crash helmet. Something wonderful is about to happen.