Pentecost Sunday User Guide
Sunday June 5th is Pentecost Sunday. Mass readings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34; 1 Corinthians 12:3b-7, 12-13 Where Romans 8:8-17; John 20:19-23 Where John 14:15-16, 23b-26.
What a wonderful and uplifting feast we celebrate at Pentecost! A party like this challenges us because it puts an end to a lazy, sleepy and lukewarm Christian life. The Lord Jesus said to the apostles, “I have come to cast fire on the earth” (Luke 12:49). It is a feast about this transforming, refining and purifying fire that the Lord wants to kindle in us. Consider two aspects of this holiday.
The Acts 2 reading speaks of the Holy Spirit using two images: a rushing wind and tongues of fire.
Notice how today’s text of Acts says “there came a sound from heaven like a strong wind, and it filled all the house in which they were.” The root of the word “spirit” refers to the breath. This is preserved in the word “respiration”, which is the act of breathing. So the Spirit of God is the breath of God. Genesis 1:2 says that God had breathed his breath (Spirit) into Adam. But Adam lost this gift by sinning and died spiritually. So we see in this passage of Acts an amazing and wonderful resuscitation of the human person as these early Christians experience the rushing wind of the Spirit of God breathing spiritual life into them. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us again as in a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16).
tongues of fire
The text of Acts then says: “Then appeared to them tongues of fire, which separated and came to rest on each of them. The Bible often speaks of God as fire or in terms of fire: Moses saw him as a burning bush. God led the people out of Egypt through the desert like a pillar of fire. Moses went up a fiery Mount Sinai, where God was. This is how our God, who is Holy Fire, comes to dwell in us by His Holy Spirit, and He refines us by burning away our sins and purifying us.
God also prepares us for judgment, for if he is a holy fire, then who can endure the day of his coming? Only what is already fire. So, we must be inflamed with the love of God and brought to the temperature of glory. He purifies us and prepares us to meet the one who is a Holy Fire.
Spread by the Spirit
In today’s psalmic answer we sing: “Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the Earth”. Concretely, how does the Lord do this? Maybe a photo will help illustrate. My parish church is dedicated to the Holy Spirit under the title “Holy Comforter”. The clerestory walls are painted Spanish red, and on this large canvas are also painted more than 20 saints, the depictions surrounding us like a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). Above the head of each saint image is a rendered tongue of fire.
So, this This is how the Spirit of the Lord fills the Earth: It is in the fiery transformation of each Christian who steps forward to bring warmth and light to a cold and dark world. This this is how the Lord sets fire on the earth. This is the way the Spirit of the Lord fills the orb of the Earth – in the lives of the saints (and in your life and mine!
A blessed Pentecost to all!