June 9, 2019
Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104; I Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13; John 14:15-16, 23b-26
In the Acts of the Apostles Saint Luke tells the story of the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we celebrate today. It happened on the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, in which Jews were obligated to go to Jerusalem, so the city was filled with people from the whole Mediterranean region and from Israel. Pentecost was a harvest festival in which the first loaves of spring wheat were offered to God. It was also a celebration of the Law (the Ten Commandments) given to Moses at Mount Sinai, which took place fifty days after the Passover commemorating the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt.
So fifty days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, his promise was fulfilled: "The Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” This Solemnity, for us, celebrates the New Law of the Spirit, written in the hearts of believers, commemorating our freedom from the bondage of sin and death and surpassing the Law of Moses written on tablets of stone.
The presence of wind and fire bring us back to Mount Sinai. They are symbols of the manifestations of the presence of God. In Psalm 28 we read: "The voice of the Lord shines in flames of fire." However, the real event of Pentecost is the empowerment of the disciples by the Holy Spirit. The resurrection of Jesus is again verified this new experience of power, manifested by the bold proclamation of the "Great works of God". Jesus had promised that when the Holy Spirit comes: "you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and Fire." It was the baptism in the Holy Spirit that transformed the Apostles from people of fear and uncertainty to people of courage and unwavering faith.
Pentecost was filled with drama and a cast of thousands, but the symbol of the Holy Spirit is the dove, the symbol of peace. Jesus wants us to live in His peace and trust that his presence is always with us through the Holy Spirit as we continue the mission of proclaiming the mighty works of God.
Fr. Patrick Daugherty, C.P.