The word ‘Pentecost’ comes from the Greek worn meaning “fiftieth”. 50 days after the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles in a definitive way, igniting them into action to go to the ends of the world to preach the Good News. It is thus the event that is regarded as the birth of the Church.
Sacred Scriptures give us two imageries for the event that is Pentecost: that of fire and wind. (See also Page 3 for other symbolism)
Fire speaks of growth, passion, power, growth and intensity. It also speaks of unpredictability like the pattern of flames leaping. We see this especially in the lives of the Apostles where each and everyone of them died a martyr’s death, giving witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ in ways they never imagined. The Christian life, lived in the Spirit, is not a comfortable and complacent one. Rather, living in the fire of the Spirit means entrusting ourselves to the Spirit’s power and following its unpredictable stirrings. When it comes to the fire of God’s love, we are not meant to be cautious, discreet, sensible and secure, rather, the readings today speak to us of being sent to inflame the word with that love. The second image of wind is similar: it is the image of enthusiasm and power, but also force and gentleness. Wind can blow into hidden places and blows where it wills. But with the wind there is always a choice. We can struggle securely in the shelter of the indoors or we can step out into the wind. We can use its gentle nature or its strength.
Whichever image we prefer, as Christians, we must open ourselves to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And when we let God into our lives, often it will seem like a stepping out into the unknown. Mostly it requires courage and trust. Always, and especially when we are weak and disheartened, if it is the work of God, the Holy Spirit will be out strength, and our guide.
Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Come Holy Spirit… Fr Michael
Come Holy Spirit….