Peter, the betrayer of Jesus, who became the rock on which Jesus would build his church, speaks with authority. Flanked by the apostles, he addresses the crowd’s concern. No one among them is drunk. They have never been more sober. He reports that at nine o’clock that morning the Spirit hovered over them with tongues of fire, reformed them from within, and made them messengers of the Most High. Not with his own words but with those of the prophet Joel, Peter explains what happened. Let us listen to this prophecy as if for the first time, personalizing its declarations, each according to our own gifts.
We may be young or old, male or female, slave or free, Gentile or Jew and yet be designated by the Divine as prophets who refuse to be satisfied with the status quo. Life as we know it takes another turn. Nature itself records the end of one era and the beginning of another. This transformation will take us with Jesus from the agony in the garden, through the scandal of the Cross, to the glory of Easter morning. Blood, sweat, fire, smoke, and mist—these and other symbols of turmoil point to the change that earth and its inhabitants are about to undergo. With the coming of the Spirit, our salvation is at hand.
As the apostles were given a new start by the Holy Spirit, so too must we become Pentecost people, shunning all projects of self-salvation and letting God be God in our lives. Our posture becomes one of abject humility, for only when we bow down before the Most High and call upon God’s name can we detach ourselves from all forms of idolatry and make a radical commitment to charity.
Come, Holy Spirit, pour upon bare heads and bruised hands the balm of salvation. Anoint us with the oil of gladness that we may have the courage to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen.
This week’s readings remind us of the powerful role of God’s Spirit. For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity we understand the least. In the book of Acts, the Spirit empowers the apostles on Pentecost to speak in other languages and, in so doing, initiates the establishment and missional reach of the church to the wider world. The psalmist uses a wordplay on ruach, the Hebrew word for breath or spirit, to teach us that God’s Spirit was present at Creation and is necessary for the ongoing survival of all life. Paul writes that God’s Spirit confirms that we are children of God and can approach God with confidence, not fear. Even the disciples feel uncertain about what will happen when Jesus leaves, so John provides Jesus’ assurance that God will remain with them and with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit
Read Acts 2:1-21. How often do you take solace in praying in private? Or are you more inclined to move to take action in the public square without praying first? Which site is the more comfortable for you?
Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. Where have you seen evidence of nature’s resources being spent? How can you help?
Read Romans 8:22-27. How consequential is it to you to acknowledge that God prays for us and the world? Why?
Read John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. What instructions do you wish Jesus had left for you?
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