The Feast of Pentecost: Forgiveness and Limitless Possibilities
This weekend, the Holy Family Community celebrates Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus. The Feast of Pentecost is also referred to as the birthday of the Christian Church. With the coming of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people, we seek to embody and continue the transforming mission of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is often represented by the natural elements of wind, water and fire. These powerful elements have at least one thing in common – they can be an unstoppable force. Comparatively, the Holy Spirit can go where nothing and no one else can go. The Holy Spirit can go where no counselor can go. The Holy Spirit can go where no doctor can go. The Holy Spirit can go where no friend, spouse or partner can go. The Holy Spirit can reach you, and reach into you, anywhere and at anytime. There is no place whereyou are, and no depths of personhood thatyou are which the Holy Spirit cannot pass through.
Francesca Battistelli sings a beautiful Christian song titled“Holy Spirit.”If you have never heard it, I invite you this weekend to download the song from YouTube and listen to the beautiful lyrics and melody. The chorus repeats the words: “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here, Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere, Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for. To be overcome by Your presence, Lord. Your presence, Lord.” It’s a powerful prayer invoking the Holy Spirit to be present in our daily life. Our hope is that as Catholics we can always be filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can do amazing things for God.
The song “Holy Spirit”was co-written by Bryan and Katie Torwalt. Bryan and Katie explain that God is accessible in our daily lives, relationships, and in our churches. “We can all experience the very presence of God no matter where we are.”Whether we’re aware of it or not, moment by moment, our hearts long for and will not truly be satisfied by anything less than God. Their song is an effort to open our hearts and eyes to the Spirit’s continual, powerful presence in our daily lives.
Think about a time when love, joy, or beauty was so real, so deep, so full that you could not hold it all. It was more than you could bear and tears poured down your cheeks, your heart was enlarged, and all you could say was, “Thank you.” You stood in awe and amazement of what was happening and silently wondered, “Who am I that God would bless me in this way, that God would seek me out?” The unbearable in either aspect can open our heart. It can make us vulnerable, real, and authentic. It creates space for and invites intimacy. That is the beginning of new life. The Holy Spirit can awaken us, offer insight into our life, teach us about ourselves, grow us up, and reveal the presence of God.
In what ways have beauty, joy, and love been more than you could bear? What is your experience with the Holy Spirit? What does the Holy Spirit mean to you? For the Gospel writer St. John, Pentecost is about how forgiveness opens locked doors, recreates life, and sends us out to be more like Jesus.While forgiveness is not the whole story of Pentecost, it is an important part and it is often ignored. “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”Many scholars see a similarity of Jesus breathing on the disciples and of the Genesis story when God breathed into Adam the breath of life. The word used in Genesis is emphysao, and is the same word used here, interpreted by many to mean a new beginning of life. The ancient Jewish idea of the Spirit of God was expressed in the Hebrew word Ruah, which literally means breath.
The wind of Godwas hovering on the surface of the waters. When we read in John’s Gospel that Jesus breathed on the disciples and told them that He was giving them the Holy Spirit, it is a variant of the word pnauma, the breath of God – the Spirit of God blown through the world to give it life. The Holy Spirit – the breath of God – is a powerful and unpredictable force. The breath of God is not simply a thing or an event. It is the abiding and transforming presence of God’s life with us and in us. Wherever life is being created, renewed, put back together orinspired, the Spirit is present. Pentecost does not celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit as if it had previously been absent. Rather, Pentecost celebrates another coming of the Holy Spirit. It is no longer limited to particular people or events. Today it is made available to all men and women, young and old, you and me. No one is left out. How do we open ourselves up and let God’s ruahenter into our lives?
“Holy Spirit, You are welcome here, Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere, Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for. To be overcome by Your presence, Lord. Your presence, Lord.”