Reflections on the Readings
May 24, 2015 - Year B
Like The Rush of a Mighty Wind
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)
I was raised in the faith and experience of the Pentecostal church. I'm still Pentecostal - a Catholic Pentecostal! My Pentecostal and Catholic readers will have something in common in reading that last statement. Both will say, "How can that be"?
Thank you for asking!
I can't imagine that Jesus wants less for his Church today. No where do I know of a prayer that says give us less of your Spirit. I don't believe that any of you get up some mornings and say, "Just go light on the Spirit today. I'll try it in my own strength for a while." If we are not filled and animated by the Spirit of Christ, we aren't really a Christian. As St. Paul reminds us, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:9)
Pope Francis stated in his first Pentecost Sunday homily as Bishop of Rome: The older theologians used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward.
In the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, our Lord speaks of the wind blowing wherever it wills - "you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or wither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Sprit."(John 3:8-9) The Spirit draws us into the mystery of the life and love of God. In that deep fellowship of the Trinity every heavy and burdened soul finds rest. It's not a rest from something but rather a rest in Someone. It's the friendship of leaning on Jesus much like Adam and Eve snuggled up to God in the cool of the evening in the Garden. It is the ministry of the Holy Spirit to restore our soul, to renew our heart, to refresh our spirit with the friendship of Jesus.
Jesus charged his disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, "You have heard from me, for John baptized with water, but before many days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4) At 9 a.m. on the Day of Pentecost, about 120 were gathered in prayer including the apostles, several brethren and women and Mary the mother of Jesus. And a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. Tongues of fire appeared to them and came to rest upon each of them and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Luke writes in the Acts of the Apostles of similar outpourings of the Holy Spirit in Samaria (Acts 8:14-20), and on Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:34-44), and at Ephesus (Acts 19:1-7). St Paul writes about the richness of the gifts of the Spirit which build up the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12 - 14). Peter saw the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. Peter said, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…" And before he finished his Pentecost sermon, Peter assured his listeners and us that the 'promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off.' (Acts 2:39)
St. Pope John XXIII prayed in 1962 for a new Pentecost. Let's claim the promise of the Spirit for ourselves and our children and pray for a new Pentecost in 2015 by making the prayer of St. Pope John XXIII our own:
"Renew Your wonders in this our day, as by a new Pentecost. Grant to Your Church that, being of one mind and steadfast in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and following the lead of blessed Peter, it may advance the reign of our Divine Savior, the reign of truth and justice, the reign of love and peace. Amen."
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com