To this day I still remember my first Pentecost at St Martin’s in Maryland. For the first time ever I saw a crowd wearing red, and Bill a thin, tall, older gentleman, wearing red from head to toe! I love Pentecost, not because of the color red that so many people are wearing, but because of the significance of Pentecost, and because of what could happen in our lives, in our church, and in the world if we were able to listen to the Spirit, and to realize that indeed we have receive the power of God in our lives.
Pentecost, of course, is the gift of the Spirit to the disciples and the beginning of the Church. The liturgy makes this event contemporary. Today, the Spirit is given to the disciples. Today the Spirit is sending you, Christ’s disciples, to proclaim Christ’s resurrection to the world. Today the Spirit is coming into our hearts like at the first Pentecost even if we are not able to gather together at the same place, because God’s Spirit is limitless and powerful.
The Book of Acts tells us that the Spirit on Pentecost reveals himself as tongues of fire and a violent wind which filled the entire house. The Spirit is both wind and fire. A powerful wind that does not destroy, a powerful fire that does not burn, a powerful divine force that brings divine life and equips us to fulfill our mission. We can see the power of the Spirit allowing the disciples, all of them, to speak in different languages according to the gift they received.
The Spirit is a gift from God. As any gift, we can accept it and be transformed by it, or we can refuse it. When the disciples began to speak in other languages, the crowds were curious and went to see what was happening. Some understood perfectly what the disciples were saying, others did not understand a word of what was said and thought the disciples were drunk. This detail is a clue that the disciples did not speak foreign languages, rather they spoke in tongues inspired by the Spirit. The same Spirit was working in the hearts of the crowds. Those who were opened to the gifts of the Spirit had no problem understanding the disciples. Those who were not open to the gifts of the Spirit heard only senseless sounds. The Spirit, like the wind, is blowing everywhere and any time, we just need to be attentive, receptive, to discern this presence in our lives.
Pentecost is a new beginning, the beginning of the Church, but also the beginning of a new creation reconciled with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. As the Spirit was with God at the beginning of time, the Spirit is sent anew at Pentecost to renew the face of the earth. And we know it’s not over. As long as our world is suffering, as long as human beings are suffering, the Spirit is still blowing in our lives, in our world, inspiring people of faith and people of good will to work toward God’s dream: a world of peace and justice; a world where people care for each other; a world were people respect each other; a world where there is no abuse or exploitation; a world that would be the incarnation of God’s Kingdom.
When I think about what the first Christians accomplished, when I think about how they were able to powerfully proclaim their faith in Christ not only to their community, but to the known world of their time, I can’t help but be amazed. They could not have done what they did by themselves! They are the proof of the power of the Spirit. They were filled by the Spirit of the Lord, a Spirit that equipped them for their mission, and prepared the hearts to those they encountered and to those to whom they preached. I only wish we could all be as filled by the Holy Spirit as they were.
We have received the same Spirit when we were baptized. We have received the same Spirit when we were received or confirmed. Each one of us has received the traditional seven gifts of the Spirit, Spirit of wisdom and understanding, Spirit of knowledge and counsel, Spirit of courage and piety, Spirit of awe for the Lord. And so much more, because no one can limit the power of the Spirit. The Spirit is the one who equips us to fulfill our mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. It’s why Paul told the Corinthians and tells us today, all the gifts or talents we received are from the Spirit in order to build a community, in order to be together the Body of Christ. It’s good to hear anew in this time of Coivd-19 that we need each other, we need our brothers and sisters in Christ who have received other gifts from the Spirit.
The Spirit is still blowing in our lives and in the world. The Spirit is the one who opens our hearts to the Scriptures and makes an old written text the word of God for us today. The Spirit is the one transforming the bread and wine of our Eucharist to the spiritual and real presence of Christ among us. The Spirit is the one who inspires us to follow Christ’s teachings and to be instruments of peace, justice and reconciliation. The Spirit is the one leading the Church, inspiring the Church to be always more faithful to Christ’s message. Time and time again the Spirit is the one opening our eyes and the eyes of our congregation to the needs of our world, to the needs of our community. The Spirit is the one inspiring some people to stand up for justice for the exploited, the poor, the migrants, the least of the society. And yes, the Spirit is a fire, a fire of love, a fire that can be shared, a fire that transforms us spiritually and allows us to bring Christ to this world.
It’s why I’m so excited when Pentecost arrives! Imagine what we could do if we were really open to the power of the Spirit! Our congregation is larger than the 1st community of Pentecost… what could we do differently to make Christ known around us? Sometimes we act as if we were just waiting for people to find us. But look at what the 1st disciples did: they did not wait for people to join their group! Rather they opened their doors and went outside, in the community. This is a reminder that our mission field is outside! Wherever we are is our mission field: at the grocery store, on the golf course, in the Social Security offices, at the Court House, on the road. If we were all able to do just a part of what the 1st community did, we should be able to bring a fire of love in this area. If all the churches did the same, this area, this State, this country, and the world, would be a better place!
I pray that each one of us will realize that the Spirit is among us, preceding us into the world. I pray that each one of us will realize that the Spirit is already working in our hearts and minds. I pray that the sparks of the Spirit we have received will become a fire of love in our lives, inspiring us to share Christ’s love with all.
Please, join me in praying the Prayer of the Holy Spirit,
Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of Your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your Love. Send forth your spirit and we shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen