Christ has Risen! Truly He has risen!
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.“ The fire from heaven descended upon the disciples on the fiftieth day following Christ’s resurrection.
The word “Pentecost” is derived from the Greek word meaning “fifty.” Hence the name of today’s feast. The visible fire, of course, was simply an external manifestation of the invisible gift that kindled the hearts of the faithful—the Holy Spirit. When Christ ascended into heaven, he promised his disciples saying: “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” This promise is fulfilled in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the gift of the Spirit the Divine Presence of Christ comes to dwell in the soul of the believer.
The outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost is often considered to be the true birthday of the Church. Though many blessings had been bestowed upon the disciples by Christ before that day, the fullness of his gift was only made present with the descent of the Holy Spirit. Three effects are clearly seen blossoming forth from this Gift in the life of the Church.
First, at Pentecost, the once timid and fearful disciples who had hidden in the upper room are filled with “power from on high” and boldly proclaim the Gospel throughout the world. They embrace hardship, torture, and death. In this way the message of truth reaches all peoples, inviting them into union with Christ through his mystical body, the Church.
The Spirit not only inspires the faithful to proclaim the Gospel and union with Christ; it also effects this union. The Apostles and their successors, by anointing and the laying on of hands, impart the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who accept faith in Christ. This gift of the Holy Spirit makes us one and makes us members of the mystical body of Christ, the Church.
In addition to forming the Church and strengthening believers in proclaiming the Gospel, the Holy Spirit is also our pledge of eternal life. As the great St. Augustine said: “There is no gift of God more excellent that this. It alone distinguishes the sons of the eternal kingdom and the sons of eternal perdition.” The Spirit is a purifying fire that transforms us from within. He makes us sons and daughters of the Most High.
As sons and daughters of God, we then join together in prayer and praise, taking for our own the beautiful hymn Veni, Creator Spiritus: “Come, Holy Ghost, come, from thy bright heav’nly throne; come, take possession of our souls, and make them all thine own!”
Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!