The feast of Pentecost marks the end of great rejoicing in the Season of Easter; Pentecost is the fiftieth day from Easter (Pentecoste, Gk “50th”). The 50th day corresponds to the Hebrew Feast of Weeks or Shabuoth, a time of rejoicing over the wheat harvest, and is also associated with the giving of the Law in Mt. Sinai and the covenants of Yahweh with Abraham and Noah. The Christian tradition, however, associates the feast with the descent of the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room and the beginning of apostolic preaching (Acts 2, 1-45). If you put all of these together, we find certain themes. Pentecost is about celebration, unity and mission.
How do we understand Pentecost in our lives? We do have certain experiences. When we have to talk to a person, we oftentimes do not know what and how to say what we want to convey. We wish we could put the words together; and we believe we can when we get to face the person. Oftentimes, no words come out of our mouths when we pray. The Holy Spirit enables us to ‘put things together’ into a coherent whole. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit that enables us to put into words what is truthfully in our hearts in prayer; it is the Holy Spirit that helps us pray (1 Cor 12, 3).
Since it is summer and the rainy season is about to kick in, we shall use the image of the wind as it is also associated scripturally with the Holy Spirit.
The wind can be gentle and soothing. The Holy Spirit can calm us and quiet our hearts: when we are afraid about a friend’s operation, or distressed about the result of an exam; when resentment begins to grow in our hearts because of sustained hurt from a person or a group in our workplace; when we are beating the deadline and our stress level is on the rise. The Holy Spirit makes us whole by consoling us — like a mother who pacifies our fears when she cuddles us in her arms (Good thing we celebrate Mother’s Day today!). It is the Holy Spirit who rekindles our confidence and gives us strength when we are too weak and tired even to pray. It is the Spirit who brings us back to life when we are apathetic and passionless. In other words, it is the Spirit who gathers our scattered selves. Siya ang bumubuo sa atin kapag tayo’y nagkakalat.
The Holy Spirit can also be like a rough and mighty wind (Acts 2,2), as a burning fire, a consuming passion. In Acts 2, 3, the ‘tongues of fire’ consume the hearts of the disciples, that they preached about Jesus with a sustained passion. It drove the disciples out of Jerusalem, and traveled into Gentle territory, proclaiming without fear that Jesus is indeed the Savior. It is the Spirit who enabled them to speak the local language and be understood by all. The Holy Spirit unites us with a common understanding. It unites all of God’s people as St. Paul said, “it was by one Spirit that all of us, Greek or Jew, slave or free, were baptized into one body” (1 Cor 12, 13).