The feast of Pentecost celebrates the coming of the Holy spirit on the Apostles. In the Christian calendar it replaced a traditional Jewish feast of Shavuot, celebrated fifty days after Passover, marking the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt.Sinai. The feast of Shavuot, therefore, can be considered the birthday of Judaism. In the same way the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (literally means fifty days) is considered the birthday of the Church. Pentecost Sunday marks the end of the Easter season and a beginning of a new phase in the life of the Christian community, now confirmed in their faith in the Risen Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit to continue his work.
Spirit of God
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God – The loving zeal in the heart of God that gave us life ( Gen 2:7), and that is always seeking and working for the well-being and happiness of all his children. God fashioned man out of clay, and then he breathed his life-giving breath into him and that lump of clay became a living being – a human being. So by virtue of our creation something of the breath of God-the spirit of God- lives in us. In essence, it is a creative love-force that awakens, energises, enlightens and empowers.. But not only does it give life and sustain life, it seeks to inspire us to the fullness of life and love as beloved children of the Father. Weakened and impaired by the story of sin the Father yearned for a new outpouring and liberation of his Spirit in his children as beautifully expressed in the Prophetic book of Ezekiel – ‘“The Lord Yahweh says this: Come from the four winds, breath, breathe on these dead and let them live.’ I prophesied as he had ordered me, and the breath entered them, they came to life again and stood up on their feet, a great and immense army”, (Ezk 37:9-10 ) The ongoing work of the Spirit seeks to renew, reinvigorate and transform “the dry bones” of humanity.
Spirit of Jesus
The fullness of this same Spirit finds a home in Jesus, “the spirit of God has been given to me” Lk 4:18 and works in him and through him to heal and to bless, to save and to build up and to drive away any spirits that harm or enslave or dehumanize God’s people. Filled with the Spirit Jesus is driven by a passionate commitment to usher in the reign of God. With every “breath” of his ministry he awakened new life, transfigured what had become disfigured, and raised up what had fallen. The Holy Spirit, if you like, is the love force, energy, saving power, in the belly of Jesus determining all that he says and all that he does.
Spirit of the Church
After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his dejected and demoralised disciples in the upper room and he “breathed on them and said ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”(Jn 20:22.) He breathed his Spirit into them: that loving force that was in him is now given to them – reviving and rejuvenating their heavy hearts, and restoring and renewing their broken morale, and empowering them with a new lease of life and love for the furthering of the mission of Jesus.
The church continues to breathe this same spirit of God, spirit of Jesus through its sacramental life – rebooting and reinforcing the life and work of the spirit by endeavouring to raise up all that is best and beautiful in our humanity for the realization of the “reign of God”.
And as Pope Francis reminded us recently in his address to the Catholic Biblical Federation , “it is the holy Spirit, the life-giver , who loves to work through scripture. The word of God brings God’s breath into the world, it infuses the heart with the warmth of the lord.”
In the Lectio journey “the breath of God” which permeates and animates the written word, reaches out to penetrate and enlighten the human heart and mind in Meditation – to see and to recognize the living and life-giving presence of the “Word made flesh” today; in response, stirring the heart to prayer and contemplation; freely bestowing the gift of wisdom – new insight, true understanding of life’s meaning, purpose, values; and finally, motivating and challenging all to embody that spirit in new and creative ways today.
Spirit of the disciple
To be a disciple is to be inhabited by the Spirit of Jesus: To be infused with his Spirit..driven by the same spirit that drove Jesus so that we come to do the things he did, and say the things he said. Through the Spirit, not only do we come into his presence but we actually can become his presence, embody his presence, in the world today. Life in the Spirit means seeing the world as he saw it, trusting in the father as he did, understanding life as he understood it, engaging with people as he did – a compassionate presence, sowing seeds of forgiveness and liberation, working for a more just, human and dignified and happy world for all God’s children.
In his closing remarks to the catholic Biblical federation Francis expressed his hope that there would be “a new season of greater love for sacred scripture flourishing on the part of all members of the people of God, so that it would deepen our relationship with Jesus.”
If the pages that follow assist in some small way as part of this process then they will have achieved their purpose.
“Come Holy Spirit fill the hearts of your faithful people and
enkindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be recreated and thou shall renew the face of the earth.”