The Easter season concludes with today’s celebration, the feast of Pentecost. On Pentecost we celebrate the Holy Spirit descending on the Apostles who were gathered together in the upper room in Jerusalem, it is the beginning of the Church. It is the fulfilment of Christ’s promise to send us the Holy Spirit and happens 50 days after His resurrection.
The coming of the Holy Spirit on that day is very significant as Pentecost was an important day for the Jewish people occurring 50 days after the feast of Passover a statutory celebration mentioned in the Old Testament. The coming of the Holy Spirit on that day gives it new meaning and it becomes a feast of the New Testament and the birth of the Church. The Apostles are empowered as the new people of God to carry on Jesus’ mission. The Spirit of truth is a teacher, a counsellor, an advocate, a courage-filler, a healer and the giver of every good gift. In the Acts of the Apostles (today’s first reading) we read that the Spirit comes as tongues of fire to rest on the Apostles who are transformed by His power. Suddenly they are able to speak different languages and are filled with joy and courage.
Today’s Gospel from John’s Gospel is part of his discourse at the Last Supper. Jesus asks for a commitment from his disciples and us “if you love me, then do as I have taught you,” and he promises to ask the Father to send them a helper. Jesus’ praying heart is revealed to us as is his relationship with the Father. Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit (Advocate) will come to teach and remind them of his teachings.
There is no need to reconcile these two accounts to each other but understand that Jesus fulfilled his promise to send his disciples (and us) a helper, an advocate who would empower them to be his witnesses throughout the world. The Spirit will teach them new things, lead them into the mystery of Jesus even deeper and help them understand new challenges which lie ahead. The same can be said for ourselves. As Christians we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at Baptism and Confirmation, our faith is a life long journey where we discover the existence of God in the realities of our everyday lives. It is an intimate relationship strengthened through prayer and reflection. Life in the Spirit can be transforming. Do you long for a glimpse of Jesus’ glory? Do you thirst for a greater outpouring of the Spirit for you and your family? For the Church and for the world? If your answer is “yes” then it is proof that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life.
The Church celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost every year. We can receive this gift in ever new and exciting ways if we recognise and allow the Spirit to work within us, do not be afraid to pray “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful!”