This reflection is being prepared two weeks before Ash Wednesday! I am running a good six weeks ahead of time (the result of being housebound and forbidden to drive after...
Let us start this week by focussing our attention on the intention of the Opening Prayer which provides a succinct answer to the question. Why Pentecost?
… that the Spirit will work through our lives to bring Christ to the world …
Pentecost, is our feast, and our reminder of the specific time in which we live, as well as the fact that we are supposed to be WORKING(with, through, and in THE SPIRIT) for the Gospel – especially as witnesses in what we both say and do.
It is enormously important to know very clearly that the Holy Spirit was not invented at Pentecost. He (she?) had been around for a long time! In fact the Book of Genesis tells us that the Spirit was there from the very start. We are told that “the Spirit of God hovered over the abyss (chaos).” It is the same Spirit that hovers over our own lives (often somewhat chaotic?!), and helps us to create some sort of order and fruitfulness (as in the Garden of Creation).
In order to better understand the occurrence of Pentecost simply bear in mind that the Holy Spirit played a role in Creation which initiated a specific period of time and activity in God’s infolding plan of salvation. This role, however muted, was specific. Then, in a much clearer manner the sameSpirit was manifestly active in the event of the Annunciation (see LUKE 1:35) which ushered in a new age in salvation history. The first period can be described as the age of the Father, and the second as age of the Son. The Luke record referred to is worth making a special note of – we are told that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
Pentecost ushered in the third (and final – we are living in the final days) age in the Lord’s plan for his world. It is interesting to now that in our contemporary world, scripture scholars have begun to replace the term Anno Domini (year of the Lord, AD ) with Christian Era (CE). Indeed, this is the time of and for Christians – for US. In so many meaningful ways the Lucan text quoted can easily apply to the event of Pentecost – the Holy Spirit came upon his Church, and the POWER of the Most High overshadowed it. IT WAS THE START OF A NEW ERA! We are participators, not bystanders or spectators, in this era. Pentecost gave a powerful gift to the Church, the Christian community. The gift of power was, in no way, limited to the Twelve! Something very new was introduced. Now we are able to get into the nuts and bolts of THIS SUNDAY’S FIRST READING [ACTS 2: 1 – 11]. Read it carefully.
Then, phrases from THE PSALM [102 or 102] come to life – “you take back your spirit, they die …. send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.”
What about the opening and closing words of THE SECOND SCRIPTURE [GALATIANS 5: 16 – 25]? “If you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger ….. Since the Spirit is our life, let us be directed by the Spirit.” Do not miss the obvious connection between these words and those quoted from our Psalm. Of course, the extract from Galatians spells out exactly how we die and create.
We must also bear in mind succinct words from OUR GOSPEL EXTRACT [JOHN 15: 26 – 27.16: 12 – 15]. “The Spirit of truth … will be my witness. And you too will be witnesses … the Spirit of truth … will lead you to the complete truth.” Never forget that each one of us has still to learn the complete truth (we do not know it yet!), and this is only achieved when we allow ourselves “to be directed by the Spirit.”
So, the opening words of the Alternate Opening Prayer (no longer used, but there is no reason why we should not use any prayer formula to aid our reflection) fit magnificently:
“Father of light … send your Spirit into our lives … and by the flame of your wisdom open the horizons of our minds.”
There is no place for disciples with closed minds in the Christian Era. As has been stated in an earlier reflection – we need to be wise not only well informed!
BE WISE, CONTINUE LEARNING, AND KEEP THE HORIZONS OF THE MIND OPEN.