Feast of Pentecost
Celebrating the Feast of Pentecost is one of the highpoints of the Christian Year. We must always bear in mind that celebrations take place in order to help us to remember and also to embrace some important truths that God has to teach us. We remember at Pentecost the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus to his followers that they would receive power when the Spirit came upon them, power that would enable them to undertake the tremendous task of continuing his reconciling mission in the world. The disciples were warned not to venture on the mission until they had been clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49b). It is in the power of the Spirit which was so graciously poured out upon those first disciples on the Day of Pentecost that the spread of the gospel to the ends of the earth began. Every succeeding generation of Christians, gifted by the same Spirit, has continued that work, and now it is our turn.
Jesus wants us to continue his mission today. What is this mission? Simply put, it is to give life, eternal life, and to reveal the face and the heart of God to people. It is to be a presence of God in the world where there is an absence of God. This does not require big miracles which some may be called to do, but for most of us it is those works of simple kindness and goodness which give people life and lead them to trust not only in themselves, but to trust in God.
In carrying out this task we have two things going for us. In the first place we have the essential message of Pentecost, which is, that God is not only with us, but that God now dwells within us. He has breathed his life in us, his presence and power are available to us, his Spirit lives in us. We need to know this, we need to believe this, we need to embrace this truth in such a way that we experience the power of God within us. In the second place, Jesus assures us that we can be bold, and in his name ask God for whatever we need, and God will do it for us. The Spirit within gives us new power to pray.
One final thought for today is that when we make reference to power in relation to the Spirit, we must always bear in mind that it is not power to dominate but rather to liberate persons. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of mercy, truth and love, and so compassion, openness, and genuine affection must be shown in all the things we do, and in all our relationships with others.