Church Celebrates The Spirit Of Pentecost

We have talked earlier in these reflections about how the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost are symbolic events which reveal the presence of God as Spirit.

Easter reveals Jesus, ‘the living Spirit’, returned from the dead to give us ‘new life’.

The Ascension speaks of Jesus as ‘Lord’, someone who empowers us and sends us on a mission, to complete the task he came to do.

Pentecost describes their receiving of the Spirit by the disciples in all its fullness.

The faithful disciples, men and women who had followed the Lord from the beginnings of his ministry had gathered with Mary his mother, to await the coming of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit invaded the place where they were assembled, its force knocked them over like a storm wind. They felt warm and tingly all over, as if ‘tongues of flame’ had alighted on their heads. This is the picture of Pentecost we all imagine.

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Ascension Edicule - Site of Jesus Ascension
But there’s another, quieter image, and it comes from John’s Gospel on Easter evening itself. The disciples are gathered in the familiar Upper Room, the doors being barred and the windows shut for fear of the Jews. Jesus enters the room and his presence fills their hearts. “When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. ‘Peace be with you’, he said, and he showed them his hands and his side.” Yes, the presence of the Spirit of Jesus is the presence of peace and joy.

But there is more. The Risen Jesus breathes his Spirit into each of us his disciples and sends them on their mission, saying “as the Father sent me, so do I send you.” What kind of mission? Of baptism and the forgiveness of sins. Jesus tells them, “whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven.”

The meaning of Pentecost is the realization that all of us have been given the abundance of the Spirit — to communicate peace and joy, to preach compassion and forgiveness. And all this is the gift of the Risen Lord to his Church, now and forever.

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