PENTECOST - B
Why do we celebrate the Pentecost at the end of the Easter season? It is because the Holy Spirit was the ultimate gift of the Risen Christ promised to the apostles. It was the fruit of the suffering and death of the Crucified God.
Originally it was a Jewish harvest festival where the people would offer on the fiftieth day a new cereal offering to the Lord (Lev. 23:16). Later on the feast was used to commemorate the Old Covenant fifty days after the Exodus from Egypt.
The Christian Pentecost comes from two biblical traditions of St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles which was based from the charismatic and prophetic tradition and of St. John in the Fourth Gospel which was based from the wisdom tradition. Although different in their presentation of details, genre and theology, both traditions pertain to the same descent of the Holy Spirit.
In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit has always been depicted and understood as the breath of God (ruah in Hebrew, pneuma in Greek and spiritus in Latin). It was the divine breath that animated the clay which became man and woman and also vivified the rest of creation. Sin destroyed that divine breath hence the spiritual death of humankind. In the New Testament, God re-created creation by breathing anew his divine breath when the Word became flesh. The resurrected Body of Christ has the power to regenerate in an act of self-giving therefore God the Father gave birth to the New Humanity through the gift of the Holy Spirit as the fruit of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The Pentecost is a Trinitarian event! It is an event that happened within history (recorded in the Scriptures) and also outside history (beyond time) which makes it an eschatological event. It happened two thousand years ago and still continues to happen at this very moment.
The Pentecost opened a new era in the history of salvation which is the Era of the Holy Spirit. In this era the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ was born. When we received the gift of the Holy Spirit during our Baptism and Confirmation. It was the acknowledgement of our membership in the Body of Christ. When we were grafted into this spiritual body, we became children of God and our lives were conformed to Christ. Therefore to be a Christian is being a child of God who bears the name of Christ and who lives the life in the Spirit. It is in the participation in this Trinitarian life that we become being-for-others with a mission to share the divine breath we received by making a difference in the world we live in.
Prayer for the Spirit
“Pour into our hearts the sentiment of Your love, become Yourself a flowing current for us, for our own current does not carry us all the way to you. Be rainfall upon our parchedness, be a river through our landscape, that it might find in you a defining middle and a cause of its increasing and bearing fruit. And should Your water bring forth blossoms and fruit in us, then let us not regard these as our own sproutings and produce, for they stem from You; and let us lay them up in advance with you, adding to the store of invisible goods that You can dispose of as You wish. They are fruits from our land, but brought forth by You, which are Yours to use for You or for us, or to reserve for another who has nothing.”
(Hans Urs von Balthasar)