by Victor Hoagland, C.P.
Following his resurrection Jesus was seen by his apostles for a period of forty days, according to the Acts of the Apostles, during which “he spoke to them of the kingdom of God”. (Acts 1) The Sundays of Easter before the Feast of Pentecost recall these meetings when the Good Shepherd, risen from the dead, goes searching for his sheep. He will not leave them orphans, he tells them, “I will come back to you.”
At the same time Jesus directed his apostles to “wait for the gift promised by the Father, of which I told you.” The gift of the Holy Spirit.
So they waited in Jerusalem until the Jewish feast of Pentecost arrived, fifty days after the Passover. Then, as they were all together in one place, a strong wind and sound filled the house where they were, and flames like tongues of fire came to rest on them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ “first gift to those who believe, to complete his work on earth, and bring us the fullness of grace.” ( 4th Eucharistic Prayer) Just as the Father sent him, his disciples are to go into the world to renew the face of the earth. With different gifts, they form one body. Performing different works, they are members of the body of Christ, the church.
They were not to be survivors reminiscing until death about those few glorious years he was with them. They were to be on their way to new uncharted lands. “Go and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you.” Their lives were not ending, but beginning.
The Acts of the Apostles records the beginnings of the church. Jesus’ disciples would take his message from Jerusalem to all parts of the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Receive the Holy Spirit”, Jesus said to his apostles when he first appeared to them on Easter Sunday. A new age has come.
The same Holy Spirit still abides in the church, with us, making all things new.
Come, Holy Spirit, Creator come
from your bright heav’nly throne:
come take possession of our souls,
and make them all your own.
You who are called the Paraclete,
best gift of God above,
the living spring, the living fire,
sweet unction and true love.
You who are sev’nfold in your grace,
finger of God’s right hand:
his promise, teaching little ones
to speak and understand.
O guide our minds with your blest light,
with love our hearts inflame;
and with your strength, which ne’er decays,
confirm our mortal frame.
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