6.02.2009

Veni, Sancte Spiritus (Come, Holy Spirit)

Last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday. I am proud to tell the world that I was born on Pentecost Sunday. My birthday has not since landed on that day, but I told my husband that if it ever does, I want to have a huge party. Pentecost Sunday is the day that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his disciples (50 days after Easter) and it is considered the birthday of the Church. Before this point in the Christian story, the followers of Jesus did not know what to do and, in fact, were afraid. They even locked themselves in a room out of fear that they might suffer the same fate as Jesus did on the cross. It was in this locked room that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon them.

The story of Pentecost, and Sunday’s first reading, is very familiar to me. The room was locked, the disciples and Mary were there, they were afraid, and they were praying together. Then they heard a loud sound like rushing wind and it filled the room. Next, tongues like fire parted and rested over each person. All in the room were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and they began speaking in different languages.

What an amazing and powerful story. How often I have thought of that story and prayed that the Lord would do such an amazing and powerful demonstration in our day. But it was the Gospel reading that rang true to my experience of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In this story, taken from the Gospel of St. John, Jesus actually came into the room through locked doors and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit. There was no rushing wind or tongues of fire, just the quiet breath of Christ. That is the Holy Spirit that I know. It is never overpowering, scary or even all that exciting. Most often it is just a sense of peace that fills my heart and puts my soul at rest.

God our Father,
let the Spirit you sent on your Church
to begin the teaching of the gospel
continue to work in the world
through the hearts of all who believe. ~AMEN
(Opening prayer from Pentecost Sunday)

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