Proclaiming Christ to the World
The Holy Spirit came upon them on Pentecost Sunday. They were Jesus’ closest followers, his closest disciples. Most of these people had deserted the Lord when he was arrested. They were panic struck. Jesus had been, essentially, tortured to death. How could they avoid a similar fate? And yet, there was the truth about Jesus they could not deny. They were in turmoil. They could not understand why this happened to the most Beautiful Man the world had ever seen. Jesus’ resurrection intensified their turmoil. They did not grasp the significance of the resurrection. They kept their doors locked to keep His enemies out.
And then the Holy Spirit filled the Upper Room where they had gathered, the same Upper Room where they celebrated the Passover and received the Body of the Lord and His Blood, the Blood of the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit didn’t just fill the room, it filled them. They were on fire for Jesus. They began to understand the mystery of Christ. They were still afraid to suffer and die, but that became secondary to throwing open the door, going out and proclaiming the Gospel. And three thousand people heard them, and caught their fire, and became Christian. Together they formed the Body of Christ, the Church. Reality was completely changed by the Fire of the Lord, by the Holy Spirit.
That is what Pentecost was. That is what Pentecost did to the world. That is what Pentecost does to us.
How could it be possible that those common everyday men, those disciples, many of whom probably could not even read, how could it be possible that they could begin a movement of love that would embrace the world? The fire of the Lord consumed them, and consumed all around them.
The Gift of Pentecost is that we hold our Savior within us and are filled with the Reality that changes our lives. We are determined to do everything possible to nurture that Reality, to protect that Reality, to allow the world to experience the wonder of that Reality. Jesus is the Reality. Jesus lives! The fire that is within us is His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.
The Gospel of John relates the Pentecost experience in a simple and moving manner, quite different than the scene in Acts. In John, Jesus appears to the disciples in the Upper Room and pronounces peace. “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when He said this He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Peace comes through the forgiveness of sins. The Church is empowered to forgive sins. The Church is empowered by the Holy Spirit to impart peace. The fire that consumes us is the fire that forgives our sins, the fire of peace.
There has been a birth, and a change in reality. The birth is the birth of the Church. We are full of such joy that we cannot hold ourselves back. We have to proclaim to the world with our lives that Love is conquering all. Jesus lives. His fire inflames us.
Today and every day is Pentecost.