|Holy Spirit Window in St. Peter's Basilica|
An awesome truth!
“Pentecost” is a Greek word meaning “fiftieth” – the fiftieth day after Passover. In the Christian tradition, Pentecost celebrated the descent of the Spirit.
The Book of Acts describes the Jews coming to Jerusalem for the harvest festival. Suddenly the Spirit – described in images of wind and fire (symbolizing power and energy and
vitality) – was poured out upon the disciples and fired them up to preach the Gospel
fearlessly throughout the then known world.
The letter of Paul to the Christian community at Corinth in Greece speaks about all the
gifts the Spirit bestows upon us: all to build up the community. We often overemphasize the
individual at the expense of the community. Paul’s words are a powerful reminder to seek the
The Gospel according to John describes a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus. The
risen Christ breathes upon the disciples (as God originally breathed life into us in the Book of
Genesis) and in that gesture bestows the Spirit. It’s an awesome truth of our faith: the God of the
universe lives within us. You may ask: what does God’s Spirit do within us?
The Spirit transforms us into new creatures, with a destiny beyond this earthly life: eternal life
with God. That life has already begun in us, in the waters of baptism, and is nurtured in today's word and sacrament.
To see what the Spirit can do, look at the early disciples: initially cowards hiding in a room; and then suddenly transformed into heroes proclaiming that Jesus Christ is gloriously alive.
The image I like best for Pentecost is the “breath of God” or “gush of wind.” It's something you can
feel, “catching” the Spirit. The power and force and energy and vitality of the Spirit is within us. The Spirit inspires us, moves us, so that we can be a channel of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-discipline.
As the Spirit moves where it will, it can inspire whoever sees its effect. So keep alert for
God’s Spirit. Yes, only humans receive the “breath of God” but all living things inspire us if we
are alert for God’s creative spirit.
Pentecost begins the mission of the people of God, your mission and mine, to continue
the saving work of Jesus Christ until he comes again in great glory. We can continue that work
by embodying the gifts of the Spirit: wisdom (to recognize what really matters in life),
intelligence (to discern what's true), courage (to step up for what's right), compassion (for the
needy), good judgment (to do right), and wonder and awe (to worship the great God of this
Let us pray that the Spirit whose gifts we already possess by virtue of our baptism will empower us to live more fully the results of the Spirit’s presence in us – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, self-discipline.