Today we celebrate the birth-day of the Church! Today we celebrate the beginning of a new era in the history of salvation when the Holy Spirit was gifted to the followers of Jesus in fulfillment of His promise: “I will send you the Paraclete…” Today is the day of empowerment!
The disciples of Jesus before Easter were a picture of ultimate losers, full of fear and nothing to hold on to when the reason of their existence vanished in the death of their Master. It was on this horrifying and hopeless situation that the Risen Christ appeared to them giving them peace. Suddenly they were filled with joy! With a new mission as ambassadors of the Resurrection, they received new life from the One who said “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Christ breathed on them and said to them “Receive the Holy Spirit.” For a number of times during the Last Discourse of Jesus (Jn 14-17) He introduced the Paraclete as the new name of the Holy Spirit. He also promised that the Paraclete would be the gift of the Father to His disciples.
Creation is always associated with the breath of God (ruah in Hebrew) which also refers to breath or wind (pneuma in Greek) and was translated as spiritus in Latin (spirit in English). Everything in creation came into being when the Word was spoken by the Father. Therefore all creatures continue in existence by the Father’s continuous utterance of the Word through the breathing of the Holy Spirit. That is why we say that each single created being is an imprint of the Trinity (vestigia Trinitatis). In a very special way, when God created man, He blew His ruah as divine breath into the nostril of man and man became a living being. God’s breath was loaned to man in the duration of his earthly life and will totally depend on God as He continued to breathe through the utterance of His Word. But sin tremendously damaged that relationship between God and man. The Risen Christ as if in the second act of creation, breathed once again a renewed ruah to humanity during the Pentecost to give life once again, and this time fullness of life. This very act is the creation of the Church as the New Humanity. In this new creation, the recipients were empowered with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to constantly renew themselves through the sacrament of Reconciliation: “If you forgive sins, they are forgiven…” The breath of God empowers the disciples of Jesus to perform extraordinary actions because of the presence of the Paraclete in them.
Pentecost happens everyday because God continues to utter His Word through us when we do good things to ourselves, to others and to the world. There is Pentecost when we embrace a stranger as our own, when we forgive somebody who wronged us, when we brake down the walls of prejudice and racism, when an enemy becomes a friend, when members of different religions come together as brothers and sisters, when nations stopped fighting each other, etc. When we do these, we are able to use the divine breath that is given on loan to us to help in re-creating this world into the realm of God!
Take a deep breath and feel the power within you… the presence of the ruah who dwells within you that makes you sacred and empowers you to breathe into the world fresh and new life….