Pentecost Present Forever
By Fr Roderick Salazar SVD
He was there. From the start. Genesis assures us.
At the dawn of creation, while the earth was yet
a formless wasteland, and darkness covered the
abyss, a Mighty Wind swept over the waters.
He was there, the prophet Ezekiel relates to us,
in the desert of death, the valley of dry bones.
Told by the Lord to prophesy, to ask that flesh cover
the bones and living breath come into them, Ezekiel
does and a multitude of living men arise.
He will come to you, John says Jesus tells His disciples.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will
send in My name, will teach you everything and
remind you of all that I told you. He will testify to Me.
and you will testify because You have been with Me
from the beginning.
“It is better for you that I go,” Jesus continues to say,
“For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send Him to you. And when He comes,
He will convict the world in regard to sin and
righteousness and condemnation.”
“When He comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you
to all truth. He will not speak on His own, but He will
speak what He hears and will declare to you the things
that are coming. He will glorify Me, because He will
take from what is Mine, and declare it to you.”
“You will receive power,” Jesus is quoted in the Acts of
the Apostles as telling His disciples “when the Holy Spirit
comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in
Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth…”
Luke continues the story:
“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
Suddenly, there came from the sky a noise
like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire
house in which they were. Then appeared to
them tongues as of fire, which parted and came
to rest upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,
and they began to speak in different tongues
as the Spirit enabled them to speak..” Acts 2, 1-5.
Thus the story that the Church marks, remembers,
proclaims, and celebrates as its birth as the
community of believers and followers of Jesus Christ.
In the praying of the Holy Rosary,
this Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles
and Mary, is considered the Third of the Glorious Mysteries,
it being a wondrous display of God’s Power and Glory.
Thus is often forgotten another coming of the Holy Spirit,
an even previous one where Jesus is directly involved,
though in a rather quiet way
which is why the impact is rarely noticed.
This can be read in the very Gospel
for the Pentecost Mass.
John relates in Chapter 20,
that in the evening of the first day of the week,
when the doors were locked where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews, Jesus comes and stands
in their midst, and says, “Peace be with you.”
Jesus shows them His hands that bear the marks
of the nails that crucified Him, and His side that had
been pierced by the centurion’s lance.
And Jesus says once more, “Peace be with you.
And adds, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send You.”
Now comes that part which often gets unnoticed
by many a reader of this Gospel,
including bishops, priests, deacons.
The part where the Holy Spirit IS GIVEN
— by JESUS —
even before the Pentecost story in Acts.
But in a more quiet way.
Gospel-writer John relates that
JESUS BREATHED on them
and said: “Receive the HOLY SPIRIT”
The Holy Spirit is given to the Apostles as BREATH.
indicating that they are being given LIFE. NEW LIFE.
PENTECOST — BEFORE the Tongues of Fire Descending.
As Jesus is now resurrected from the dead,
He resurrects His disciples from their own death
of fear and fear of death which make them hide
behind closed doors.
Jesus exhales on His disciples :
His BREATH – THE HOLY SPIRIT.
This part is what I claim many Gospel readers miss.
Many of us, especially clerics, rush our eyes to read
the phrase that is the foundation of the power of
priests to forgive sins in the Sacrament of Penance:
“whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
whose sins you retain, are retained.”
Great indeed. But the BREATH then goes unnoticed.
Today, on this Pentecost, I submit that
we not only thank the Lord for the
Descent of the Holy Spirit upon us in a great,
dynamic powerful way as described in
the Acts of the Apostles.
We do need sometimes violent shaking
of ourselves to wake us up from sleep, laziness
and taking-life-and-God-for granted.
But may we not forget to be attuned to the
whisper of the wind as in the first day of creation,
to the breath that gives life to dry bones
in the valley of death
and to the scent of God, the sense of the Divine
that Jesus Himself imparts on us when
Resurrected He comes to make us Resurrected We.
We need sudden tongues of fire to shake us up.
But we also need quiet breaths to stir us to new life.
I recall a Frank Sinatra song about love.
But where he talks about the past, I sing it as present.
His “WAS my love”, I transpose to “IS my love.”
And I sing of God. To God. At Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit. God.
Beyond Gender. Masculine. Feminine.
Within Each. Beyond Both.
Triune God. Father. Son. Holy Spirit.
“Soft as a raindrop, fresh as the sea,
warm as the sunshine, shining on me
this is my love, God is my love.
Light is Her laughter, few are His tears
gentle Her beauty, tender His years
This is my love, God is my love.
So young, so fair, such bright golden hair
A smile always on Her face
No love can ever compare
No other can take His place.
Others may cherish fortune or fame
I will forever cherish God’s name
For this is my love
God is my love….”
HOT as a FIRE TONGUE
SOFT as GOD’S BREATH.