“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
This week, Christians throughout the world are celebrating Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was released with fire and wind. It was the fulfillment of the prophet’s promise of a new covenant where God would write the law on hearts and resulted in the reuniting of nations.
In light of this, we are featuring a blog written this week by Father Peter Gyves from A Faith That Does Justice. A Faith That Does Justice is an “interfaith organization based in Boston that raises consciousness about social issues affecting the most vulnerable among us and offers opportunities for people to walk in solidarity with those who our society marginalizes.” You can sign up to directly receive updates from them by completing the simple form at the bottom of the home page of their website.
“Peace be with you … Receive the Holy Spirit.” (John 20:22)
The Church celebrates Pentecost fifty days after Easter to commemorate the empowerment of Jesus’ disciples with the Spirit. It led to their spiritual transformation from a fragile faith in the risen Jesus to peace, joy and the wisdom to proclaim God’s message of forgiveness and salvation to the ends of the earth. Their witness resulted in the birth of the Church.
In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:1-11), Luke describes the descent of the Spirit as a strong driving wind and tongues of fire, an adaptation of Israel’s own Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, that commemorates both the wheat harvest and Yahweh’s giving of the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It also bears witness to Israel’s own birth as a covenant people. In John’s gospel (Jn 20:19-23), the disciples encounter the crucified and risen Jesus in fear and behind closed doors. He offers them his peace and shows them his wounds so they might believe he is truly risen. He then empowers them with the Spirit and sends them in mission to be to the world what he has been to them. While they needed time to assimilate what they had experienced and the demand it placed upon them, eventually they offered their lives in Jesus’ name.
Today, the Spirit of Pentecost’s gifts of wisdom and courage remain available to all people of good will so they might witness to God’s offer of forgiveness and salvation to our fractured world. For Christians, that same Spirit calls us to live as Jesus did, incarnating God’s love, compassion and justice on behalf of all God’s people. Let us pray that the Spirit will transform our own fragile faith into one that, like the disciples, engages society by actively witnessing to God’s enduring love for all of creation and deep desire for a reign of peace that is based in justice and extends from the depths of the oceans to the outer reaches of space.
A Pentecost Prayer for Christians in Greater Boston
God, as Christians in Greater Boston, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Renew our hearts which have grown cold with flames of fire that we might be the church that you desire.