B Cycle – Feast of Pentecost 21
Jn. 15:26-27; 16:12-15
Everything we know about salvation history, every action and promise of God, every person, every prophesy reaches its climax this day. God’s plan for us at creation was for us to be in his presence experiencing an intimate relationship. A relationship, we can only dream about here on earth. A relationship where every action, every glance, every touch, every word of God is aimed at us revealing the depth of God’s love for us. That love moves us to respond by a total submission of ourselves to the one who loves us, and it moves us to return that love.
To grasp the importance of Pentecost’s impact on us, we must look beyond the story of the disciples. Pentecost is more than a story about tongues of fire or their speaking in tongues. It is the fulfillment of God’s promise to make it possible for us to follow his plan for us and for us to seek intimacy with God.
What does God want from us is the real question? We are faithful Catholics, and we are not great sinners are we. Perhaps we are looking at the wrong standard to measure our relationship with God and because of that we do not feel a need to have our hearts changed. We measure our holiness is by the only standard we know – how well we keep away from sin. We will admit we do sin, while at the same time believe our sins are not “grievous” sins. They are small in comparison to the truly evil people in the world; therefore, we believe they do not hinder our relationship with God.
We somehow ignore the words of Jesus when he tells the Pharisees their hearts are far from God. See it is not good enough just to keep the commandments for Jesus has given us a new commandment which goes far beyond blind obedience. The standard for a disciple is not to meet the minimum of the law but to meet God’s standard of holiness. We forget how all sin begins within us. From deep within us desires pull us away from God and cause us to sin (Mk.7:23). God knows our hearts are selfish, seeking satisfy our own desires before we even consider God desires for us. Adam and Eve proved that spiritual truth for us for they wanted more despite having everything.
That is why God made us a promise to change our hearts by sending pouring the Spirit into us (EZ. 36:26). It is no coincidence that on the very day the Israelite nation was celebrating their feast of Pentecost, the Spirit was poured upon those men and women gathered in that upper room. The Jewish Pentecost celebrated the day Moses was given the law by God, declaring he will be their God and they will be his people. That day happened fifty days after the sacrifice of the Passover lamb’s whose blood not only saved them from death but freed them from their bondage.
Those in that upper room exactly fifty days after the sacrifice of the true Lamb of God, whose blood freed them from sin, were having the law written on their hearts by God as promised through the prophet Jeremiah (chapter 31:33). God promised us in that prophesy of Jeremiah he would make it possible for us to always follow his will and begin to live a life by God’s standard of holiness. Jesus reaffirms that promise in the upper room the night before he died, stating he would send the Spirit in fulfillment of that promise of God.
Our sins were forgiven on Calvary, but it is one thing to believe in the forgiveness of sin and another to feel the forgiveness of our sins. It is the role of the Spirit to pour the love of God into our hearts and by doing so transform us by the renewal of our minds, so we understand the great hope to which we are called and the immensurable scope of the power of God at work in us who believe (Eph.1:18-19).
If you understand nothing about Pentecost understand this one thing, Pentecost is God promising to drastically change us into witnesses who with expectant faith pray for the Spirit to clothe us with power. Our spiritual journey begins with us being taught by the law written on our hearts. Just as the disciples were enlightened by the Spirit that day and were able to boldly proclaim Jesus as the Messiah because it was revealed to them by the Spirit which was poured upon them. What were they doing in that upper room from the day Jesus ascended to the day of Pentecost?
What know they were in prayer doing exactly what Jesus told them to do. Wait until they were clothed with power from on high. The outpouring of the Spirit on the disciples did not happen so we could look back on that day as the beginning of the Chruch. No, it happened so we would experience our own new birth and transformation by inviting the Spirit into our lives. This is God’s will for us so we can become His witnesses by living our own lives guided by Holy Spirit.
If we do not rely on the transforming power of the Spirit, we remain dependent on our own strength and insights to follow God’s will. That makes us in charge of our holiness, and we will not grow into the person God desires us to become. We will miss out on feeling the arms of the Father embracing us as did the prodigal. We will miss hearing his words, “I do not condemn you” as did the woman caught in adultery. We will miss the challenges of discipleship as God invites us to give him what we have and watch him multiply it and use what we give him to touch minds and hearts of those who need a savior. We will miss out on the challenges of discipleship by walking in faith.
In the end will miss the more God desires us to experience and the more God desires us to become. Pentecost is that moment of new birth when we know we are living in the Kingdom of God where miracles happen every day.