Come Holy Spirit!
Come, Holy Spirit!
This week we conclude the season of Easter with the celebration of Pentecost. Jesus foretold of his crucifixion, bodily resurrection, return to the Father in the Ascension and the final outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the world. We celebrate Pentekoste Hemera, Greek for “50 days,” for it is exactly 50 days after the Resurrection that the promise of Jesus is completed. Today, we rejoice in the purifying fire of love, the Pentecostal gift of the Holy Spirit!
The full gift of the Holy Spirit is directly connected to the event of the Resurrection. When Jesus died on the cross, his spirit separated from his body. When the spirit separates from the body, the body is dead, but the spirit lives on. This is the condition we all experience since the original sin of our first human parents. None of us on our own can overcome sin and its final effect — the separation of body and soul in death. However, Christ, who never sinned, died on our behalf as the final and perfect sacrifice to God for sin. Three days after his sacrifice is completed, the body and spirit of Christ are reunited in a glorified state of bodily resurrection. What is impossible for us becomes possible for God. Death has no power over him; Jesus conquers sin and death. In the resurrection, Jesus reveals the permanent work of the life-giving Spirit of God.
Ten days after our Lord’s ascension, the Virgin Mary and the holy apostles were present together in prayer. Imagine being in that Upper Room in Jerusalem as the Spirit of God descended, seeing those tongues of fire dancing upon them with the gift of God’s life-giving power. Just as God appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush in Exodus to begin the Old Covenant with Israel, so God now appears with fire upon human beings to begin the New Covenant of the Church, the age of the Spirit. Like the burning bush in Exodus, Mary and the apostles are not burnt by the fire of God’s presence, but instead radiate the pure presence of God. Just as God scattered sinful, arrogant men to babble in many divided languages and nations at the Tower of Babel in Genesis, now God comes to gather the humble faithful of every language and nation throughout the world to be members of the one risen body of Christ — the Church Catholic.
Nearly 2,000 years ago, multitudes of people from different countries and backgrounds witnessed the phenomena of the Virgin Mary and the apostles being filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues. Each person heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, simultaneously in their own language, and nearly 3,000 were baptized that day. This event changed their lives. They become the scattered seeds of the early church to be planted around the world. Baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, God saved them and continues his saving work in us. Born again of water and the Holy Spirit in baptism, we are made members of Christ’s Church one person at a time until the end of time. God gives us the fire of his Spirit to dance in our souls, to enlighten our minds, to give light in a dark world. This Pentecost let us pray: Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts, kindle within us the fire of your love and renew the face of the earth!
Father Brian Campbell is a priest of the Diocese of Palm Beach.