On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of the Promise was poured out on the disciples, gathered “together in one place.” While awaiting the Spirit, “all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer.” The Spirit who teaches the Church and recalls for her everything that Jesus said was also to form her in the life of prayer (CCC 2623).
Jesus ascended into heaven at the end of forty days after his resurrection. He spent the forty days in teaching and strengthening the apostles. The forty days after resurrection and the forty days before his public ministry feel like two sides of a page. He spent the forty days before his ministry in fasting, prayers and solitude. After 40 days Jesus filled by the Spirit of God gives his maiden preaching at the synagogue. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19) After the Ascension of Jesus the apostles preached the same. Spiritual growth was the cynosure of the early Catholic Church’s preaching.
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5).
After the ascension of Lord Jesus the disciples spent their time in prayers along with Mother Mary. When they were immersed in prayers, the Holy Spirit descended on them on the day of the Pentecost. Pentecost means ‘fiftieth day.’ Lord Jesus ascended into heaven on the fortieth day and the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles ten days later. “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:4-5). The Catholic Church was established on the day of the Pentecost.
“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Here the promised refers to the Holy Spirit. The spirit will come as power and radiance, light, turning sorrows to joy and as courage. We just need to patiently wait. The apostles waited patiently for the spirit and filled them with hope, courage and strength. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” It was not like the soft voice heard by Elijah on the mount Horeb that day rather it was the tumults whirlwind that greeted them. The fire which could remove all stains filled them and the flames from the heavens set their tongues loose and freed them from the fear that had gripped their heart and gave them a new life.
They did not change physically but the changes were within and this was the work of the Holy Spirit. They realized that it was the power from the heavens, and they feared and doubted no more. They had no dreams about gaining authority. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit you can’t be still. They did not hesitate to speak about the truth they had seen and witnessed from roof tops. Their hearts and minds were filled with songs of praise.
Peter who denied his master three times to the servant girl could preach about the Living God in front of thousands. “The Lord has resurrected Jesus whom you crucified,” proclaimed Peter and the people who heard were transfixed wondering from where this fisherman got the courage to proclaim such word. The words of the apostles touched the hearts of the people, they were converted and realized their sinful nature and looked for redemption.
The Holy Spirit descended on them on the day of the Pentecost and filled them with strength and power. They proclaimed the word of God to the ends of the earth and the proclamation of the good news continues to this day. The disciples of Christ are still preaching the word of God braving the opposition not fearing the loss of life.
It is the divine power which guides and strengthens the disciples. This is the promise of Jesus – the power of the Holy Spirit. It leads us to a spiritual conversion and a renewed life and a renewed society. Let us return to the upper room and pray along with Mary and other disciples so that God may send down his Spirit on us. This is applicable to individuals, families and the religious. The Catholic Church is surrounded by trials and tribulations and only the Spirit of God can guide and protect the Church. Let us pray that we may have the same experience the apostles had on the day of Pentecost. Come Holy Spirit with your fire!