Pentecost, which means fifty days, is celebrated fifty days after Easter. On this day we recall that fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon Mother Mary, the Apostles and all those who gathered in the Upper Room where the Risen Lord appeared to the Apostles. As instructed by the Lord, they were waiting for the promise of the Father; to be clothed with power from on high (cfr Lk 24.49). “Suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them” (Acts 2.2).
This was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on human flesh promised by God through Prophet Joel: “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit”. This flaming fire of the Holy Spirit came upon each one gathered in the Upper Room. Being ‘filled with the new wine’ (Acts 2.13) of the Holy Spirit, Peter started boldly to proclaim the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ bringing to faith the three thousand people. Those who welcomed his message were baptised and that day about three thousand persons were added to the faith (Acts 2.22-41). From the day of Pentecost the mission of Christ and His Spirit becomes the mission of the Church and hence Pentecost is rightly called the Birthday of the Church. It is significant to note that St. Peter, the first Pope was already the leader and spokesman for all the Apostles on Pentecost Sunday. United with and under the leadership of St. Peter, other disciples too started to proclaim the Gospel.
It was on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit actually took up residence within the human soul. In the Old Testament, we understand that the Spirit of God would descend upon a prophet or a messenger of God to inspire him to reveal God’s will to His people. But something new happened at Pentecost. God came and dwelt not only among us as our Lord Jesus Christ, but within us through the Holy Spirit. So St. Paul could ask the Corinthians: “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Cor 3.16). What a privilege it is that God comes and dwells within us!
It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that transforms us. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to overcome the power of sin. “If you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live”. We often fail to live up to our calling as God’s children due to our innate selfishness, short temper or other weaknesses. But through our Baptism into Christ Jesus, we are baptised into His death. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the strength and the grace to die to our sins and to rise with Jesus to His resurrected glory (Rom 6.3-5). The flame of God’s love prompts me to ‘walk in newness of life, which is impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.
We cannot experience the Sonship of God, the Father (Rom 8.15; Gal 4.6)) and the Lordship of Jesus (1 Cor 12.3) without the help of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit in us who fills our hearts with the love of the Father (Rom 5.5). It is not enough that we have the Holy spirit through Baptism but we need to live in fellowship with Him (2 cor 13.13). St Paul tells: “Do not quench the Holy Spirit’” (1 Thess 5.19). When fire wood is burning, if we pour water on it, the fire will be put off. So too when we commit sin, in our thought, word or deed, the flame of the Holy Spirit within is quenched. Similarly, when the fire is burning if new fire wood is not put, gradually the fire would be put off, hence we need to add more fire wood to continue the fire to burn; so too, through our prayer, listening, reading and meditating God’s Word, worthy Sacramental life etc., we need to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit within (2 Tim 1.6). We are enabled to work for Christ, to preach, without being tired only with the help of the Holy Spirit. ( Acts 4.31). So let us love this ‘Divine Guest’ within and try not to grieve the Holy Spirit (Eph 4.30) through our sins- our selfishness, lack of love and undue concern for people in our family and among others, our negligence in prayer life, indifference to our faith, Word of God and Sacraments and the like
Jesus said that He came to cast fire on earth. He comes to give the fire of the Kingdom of God in the hearts of people, and he wants that this fire spreads INTO the hearts of all men through his Apostles and disciples. It was with this fire of the Holy Spirit the Apostles and missionaries throughout the ages went about preaching the Word of God and continued the mission of Christ with conviction and power, facing all the challenges including martyrdom.
We too have the same flame of the Holy Spirit burning within us. Do I cooperate with the grace of God to rekindle it in my day to day life and then bring this fire of God’s love and power into the world around me? Do we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit as Jesus, the Apostles and the Saints did? Or are we quenching His flame by our lukewarm faith?
O Divine Flame within me, you are the love of the Father and the Son; enkindle me with a burning desire to live Jesus and with a greater zeal to fulfil His mission. You are the light of God; enlighten my mind with the knowledge of eternal things. You are the Spirit of truth; lead me to the truths of the mysteries of the Divine Word.