The feast of Pentecost is God’s answer to the ‘Satan-instigated’ rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden. God came to man’s rescue and wasn’t going to allow Satan to have the last word.
Already then He promised a savior who would defeat Satan and redeem mankind. He chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to bring forth a people He could make His very own. Out of their descendants was born Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer.
By His death on Calvary, Jesus defeated Satan and merited for mankind forgiveness for all of its sins.
After Jesus rose from the dead, He could hardly wait to cash in His victory. On Easter Sunday night, He appeared to His apostles and disciples behind closed doors. Not only did He forgive them all their sins, but He also gave them the promised Holy Spirit to proclaim forgiveness of sin to the whole world.
He began the conversation by showing His pierced hands, feet and side. Twice He said: “Peace be with you.” That was very welcome news to all who had abandoned Him in His hour of need.
Then He said: “’As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ And when He had 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 retrain are retained.’”
Easter Sunday night was the apostles’ preparation for the greater manifestation of the Holy Spirit on the Solemnity of Pentecost itself.
Just think of the stark contrast between Good Friday afternoon and Easter Sunday night. On Calvary all hell broke loose with the crucifixion of Jesus, but so did all of heaven when Jesus announced to the whole world His prayer to the Father: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
This had to send shock waves to Satan and all of hell. Christ came to undo Satan’s rebellion in the garden and win mankind peace through the forgiveness of sins.
In the optional Gospel reading for Pentecost, Jesus at the Last Supper discourse tells His disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always.”
He reveals the intimacy that comes with the Holy Spirit. “Whoever loves Me will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
Through the Holy Spirit, we have a deep and abiding friendship with Jesus and with the Father. It’s a friendship of love and power over sin and forgiveness of sin every time we repent. In fact, it’s a friendship that leads to longing for a return to the God we have offended.
This friendship is not without its challenges. Father Peter Cameron, in his book “To Praise, To Bless, To Preach,” writes, “We wake each day to face the daily rebellion within.” Every day we experience the un-redeemed within tempting us to give in to our carnal desires. Devotion to the Holy Spirit roots us deeply in the power of God’s word to counteract the works of the flesh.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the drama of the Holy Spirit comes in a mighty way upon the larger Church. “And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.”
How powerful are the prayers of Jesus who asked the Father for this gift and joined the Father in sending this gift upon His Church. Now the saving power of Jesus was no longer localized by the body of Jesus, but given to all believers to bring them alive in the life of the Most Holy Trinity.
This is the time for each of us to ask ourselves: “Have I taken full advantage of the intimacy promised with the coming of the Holy Spirit? Do I experience intimacy with Jesus and the Father? Have I allowed the Father’s gaze to penetrate my heart with the awareness that I am His beloved daughter or son?
To prepare Catholics to experience the full outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Renewal Center periodically offers “Life in the Spirit Seminars” given by people who have had the experience and know how to prepare others to receive it. In weekly seminars people are gradually prepared for the experience of receiving the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. For information about a seminar near you, contact the Catholic Renewal Center.
These seminars really bring alive in our hearts the power of the Word of God to quell the daily rebellion we each experience every day. The choice is ours: more misery with the unredeemed, or prolonged intimacy with Jesus and the Father.