If we are attentive to Scripture we should be able to recall the Apostles’ reaction to their witnesses to the Resurrection: let’s see….. went back to the Upper Room and hid, .. hmm…. they went fishing in their old haunts of Galilee … what else? … then went back to the Upper Room … then went out to witness the Ascension … and went back to the Upper Room. At first glance it seems as though there is a lot of lollygagging going on. I mean what happened to “ Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”? Not a whole lot of going, disciple making, baptizing or teaching going on. What’s up with that?
But then, if we have been attentive to Scripture, we should realize they were also waiting. Waiting for the Paraclete, the Advisor, or in more common terms, the Holy Spirit. They were promised the Holy Spirit and told to wait: The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name–he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you (John 14:26; 6th Sunday gospel).
All that time in the Upper Room – probably spent wondering about this Paraclete, this Advocate, whom Christ promised to send. Then, all of the sudden, the strong wind hits, shaking the house to its base, and moving into the depths of their hearts. This was the long-awaited Paraclete, bringing fresh air not just to bodies, but to spirits and souls; this was the hoped-for Spirit of Jesus stoking a fire of love in their hearts. The Holy Spirit bearing gifts:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.
Later in the First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul goes on to say very clearly that these gifts are given in order to build up the Body of Christ, the church. And so they leave the Upper Room. And suddenly, empowered by the Holy Spirit there is a whole lot of going, disciple making, baptizing and teaching going on. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21) – and for the rest of the Acts of Apostles, those men and women inflamed and gifted by the Holy Spirit head out to the far reaches of the world, their country, their neighborhoods and for some their own homesteads. Each taking their Spirit-given gifts and praying that God show them how those gifts help build the kingdom.
What happened on that first Pentecost was indeed dramatic and exciting. We might wish that we could have been there to see it all; even better, to be part of it – receiving and bestowing the Spirit.
In fact, we have been there. It might well be that we didn’t recognize “the tongues as of fire” or feel the strong wind blowing through our lives. But that same Spirit has blown through our lives and put a fire in our hearts in ways that are subtle and nuanced but as real and powerful as on that first Pentecost.
All we need to do is look and listen. The first words of faith that came to us may have come from the mouth of our mother or father, a friend or from reading the Scriptures, but it was the Spirit who spoke them to us. Our first emotions of faith may have come in the liturgies of Baptism, First Communion, or Confirmation, but it was the Spirit who stirred the flames of our hearts. The first time we had to stand up for our faith in Christ through moral actions or words of conviction; it was the Holy Spirit who emboldened us to act and speak. This gift of God’s self is as fresh and new for us today as it was on that first Pentecost.
So how about us? Is there a whole lot of going, disciple making, baptizing and teaching going on here in the parish, in your family, in your life? Are we holed up in an Upper Room? Just waiting? Time for waiting is long past. Hear again the words of the sacrament of Confirmation: Send your Holy Spirit upon them to be their Helper and Guide. Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding The spirit of right judgment and courage The spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.And it is not just at Confirmation. The Spirit has been given through the Sacraments, the Word Proclaimed, in the Eucharist, and so many empowering ways. You have been gifted.
Today is a new Pentecost; not because today is unique, but precisely because it is like every other day in the kingdom of God: a day when God fills us with His Spirit to rejoice and do the work of His kingdom. So… what are you going to begin today?
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given [to build up the body of Christ ].
The Holy Spirit is the gift to us, to the Church. To teach us – if we are willing to be taught. To remind us of God’s word – if we want to be reminded. To show us our gifts – if we are willing to be shown. Different gifts, different service – if you are willing to be sent by Jesus as Jesus was sent by the Father.
There it is. Stay safe in the Upper Room wondering about things – or get busy. You are gifted by God. Commit this day to discern your gifts and put them at the service of God’s Kingdom. Make each day Pentecost.