By Ginny Schaeffer, Director of the Angela Merici Center for Spirituality
Pentecost – What a fantastical story! There’s a mighty, rushing wind that is localized in one building in Jerusalem where tongues of fire just happen to hover over the heads of those “praying and waiting” in one room of that building. Jews from sixteen countries miraculously hear the story of God’s wonderous works and revelation through Jesus Christ in their mother tongues, spoken by a ragtag, mostly illiterate, group of men and women from the little backwater territory of Galilee.
“What’s going on?” they ask.
Not much, just the risen Christ fulfilling a promise to send the Holy Spirit to comfort, counsel and deepen the knowledge and wisdom he had revealed to his apprentices while he was with them. This Spirit, the very breath of God, does so much more. She enlivens and energizes, to the point that some of the people who witnessed the events of the original Pentecost laughed it off, accusing the first followers of being “drunk on cheap wine.”
This is the same Spirit that “brooded like a bird above the watery abyss” (Genesis 1:2) before the Creator spoke and brought it all into order and form. It is the same breath of life with which God animated Adam and Eve. It is the same life force that drove Jesus into the wilderness and then back again to proclaim the good news that God’s ultimate reality is right here, right now if we only have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
Just as the breath of God enlivened Adam and Eve, this same Spirit came rushing in as a mighty wind and tongues of fire to bring to life a new body, the body of Christ. We are that body of Christ who continues to fulfill the mission of Jesus: to proclaim the good news to the poor of every ilk, to release those chained by oppression and compulsions of every kind, to give sight to those who have eyes but do not see and to heal those “burdened and battered by life.” (Luke 4: 18-19)
Like Christmas and Easter, Pentecost is not a one-time event, but continues in us today. As we remember and celebrate that first Pentecost, let us pray with the body of Christ:
Come, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of Your faithful
and kindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth Your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth.