C Cycle – Feast of Pentecost 19
The importance of Pentecost for us can easily slip by us because we do not understand how necessary the Spirit is for us. Jesus the night before he died said “it is far better for you that I go for if I do not go the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation” (Jn. 16:7-8). Those words should give us a clue of the importance of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on us today. Pentecost was not just for the disciples and the hundred and twenty gathered in that upper room 50 days after Jesus’s resurrection.
To understand what the Spirit means to us, we must go back to the beginning of creation when we were created in the image and likeness of God. God created to be in an intimate relationship with Him. God wanted to interact with us as a lover, to sit with, to talk to, to laugh with and to live forever in the presence of one who desires to lavish us with all things good. When we lost that intimacy because of the sin of Adam, God did not abandon His plan to be intimate with us. Instead He set in motion the means to restore us and also to change our hearts so we would always follow His will and know nothing would ever separate us from His love and forgiveness.
That plan involved Jesus coming to earth to take the guilt of our sins upon himself thus freeing us from the penalty of our sin. After Jesus, the plan was to send the Holy Spirit to change our hearts compelling us to seek God’s presence, to feel God’s love and to open our minds and hearts to understand our task to share that love with others.
The explain the importance of Pentecost would take days but if you think about the total and radical change in the disciples you have a glimpse of what God desires for us. Pentecost was then and remains today a key event in God’s plan to restore us. In parishes throughout the world, you will hear Pentecost proclaimed as the birth of the church. If that is all it was then all we need to do is to respond to Pentecost as a historical event following Jesus’s ascension. We celebrate it and then we quickly forget it until next year when we celebrate it all over again. However, the work of the Spirit within us is a daily event, meant to be experienced perpetually placing us in the presence of the Father daily.
Pentecost is much more than what happened to the disciples that day in Jerusalem. Pentecost is to be our rebirth, that day we come to know the reality of God’s love, His forgiveness and our mission to proclaim the good news of the gospel. If we ignore the role of the spirit in our lives, we ignore the reason Jesus said it was far better for us that He go. That statement by Jesus should be enough to motivate us to seek to understand why the coming of the Spirit is better than the presence of Jesus on earth.
Remember the readings from last week when the disciples were told to “wait in the city until they receive the promise of the Father?” What is this promise of the Father? Peter refers to this promise when he refutes the charge that they are drunk saying “Jesus received the promise of the Holy Spirit and has poured it on us” (Acts 2:33 NLT). He is affirming what the Jews were promised by God a half of millennium before the Spirit came upon them.
God promised us He would: “… will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people. No longer shall each man each his neighbor and each man his brother saying know the Lord. For they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest and I will forgive their iniquity and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:33-34).
This is a promise of God to us. It awaits us if we like the disciples wait expectantly for it to be fulfilled in us. This is not something God would like to do as an extra benefit like super sizing our faith. It is so necessary we see it happening to Jesus when Jesus was baptized by John. The important thing for us to grasp, is it is promised to all who profess a belief in Jesus Christ. This promise was given to us because it is to be the source of our holiness as it floods us with the love of God.
Go look up that passage and meditate on it and you will see there are three parts of that promise which the Spirit will imprint on our minds and hearts. Each part Is critical to us move from a quest to please God to beginning to live a life directed by God. The first part of the promise is God will write his law on our hearts. God tells how he will do that in a prophesy through Ezekiel (36:26) saying He will pour His Spirit into our hearts and change them. This means every law of man, the church and of God will be on our heart and we will not have to strive to follow them, but the Spirit would move us to live them.
The Spirit will move with us to live a life fueled by the Spirit rather than our own attempts to live holy lives. The Spirit will transform our hearts as we are freed from the law that condemns us to the law of the Spirit which affirms us. We will discover the root of our sins of pride, greed, envy, wrath, glutton and lust are no longer there as we live the law of love preached by Jesus Christ.
The second part of the promise is God said, “we will all know Him.” The key to understanding this part of the promise is in the root meaning of the word “know.” That word is used often in scripture and each time it is used the root word is the same Aramaic word. The Book of Genesis shows us exactly the meaning of the word when we read, “Adam “knew” Even and she conceived and bore a son, Cain: (Gen. 4:1). God is telling us by the outpouring of the Spirit into us we will have intimacy with him, we will know Him not intimately not intellectually. That is why we were created so the Spirit moves us back into that intimacy experienced by Adam and Eve.
The third part of the promise is God stating, “he will forgive our iniquity and remember our sin no more.” Knowing our sins are forgiven and forgotten should free us from our guilt and worry about past sins and if we are going to be acceptable to God when we meet Him face to face. What will we be judged on if God has forgotten our sins? God forgiving and forgetting is not a free pass into heaven because we must now live according to his plan for our lives and give witness to His love and Mercy.
What we need to do is to embrace the gift of salvation given to us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and embrace the Holy Spirit by inviting the Spirit into our lives. Pray each day Come Holy Spirit Come