Pentecost Sunday. fr David Rocks explains how Pentecost is the gateway to Eternity.
Fifty days have passed since Easter. Days of joy, but marked by uncertainty. The message of Easter Sunday is not a joy that is complete for us. We are invited to remain patient.
During Eastertide, Alleluia has been our song. Nobody wants to be a killjoy, but there is a tension: between the hallowed “Alleluia” and a hollow alleluia. Our Christian calling draws us to dwell in the centre of that tension. Let our praise of God be authentic, let our complaint to God be heard. We need to experience God’s love in our lives in tension – he loves us to the end, but our fullest experience of his love for us remains incomplete. We need to learn how much he loves us so that we can grow in faith.
This is where the tension is: our alleluia song of joy expresses nothing saccharine – rather, it announces the great abundance and generosity of God as he comes to us and saves us. The totality and completeness of his self-giving and all-embracing love demands something total and absolute from us, and we are not always ready or able to give that. This is why our Easter alleluia can be painful. It doesn’t yet fit with the glory that we know is promised to us in the Easter message. We can’t quite see that fullness.
Pentecost day is marked with exuberance, confidence, abundance. The great news is that things which seemed impossible begin to happen, and a message that seemed difficult to comprehend or express is widely proclaimed. It is a moment of completion, a summit, an achievement. It is also a new beginning. Pentecost invites us to make our response to the story of our salvation. It is the time when our names are brought into the story, the moment where we enter into the mystery. Pentecost is our gateway to eternity.
Jesus came to save us. He healed and preached, he revealed God’s love.
He was condemned and rejected, he suffered and died for us. He rose from the dead, and explained the scriptures to his disciples. He ascended to heaven, and promised us a new comforter, to remain with us forever. The comforter is here, the Holy Spirit who fills our hearts and calls us out of slumber to live the fullness of the joy of the Gospel in our lives.
Pentecost is not just a season or annual feast for us. It is not simply a fact or event that we commemorate. It is our beginning, our entry point, our ever-present moment. Whatever it is that we face in our lives, at whatever point of our own story we find ourselves, the Holy Spirit is interceding for us with sighs too deep for words. The Holy Spirit is working in us to transform and inspire us, so that God’s great work of salvation can be shown forth in us.
The perpetual Comforter that the Lord promised to us is with us now.
It is the presence of the Holy Spirit that enables the Easter alleluia to resonate through every aspect of our lives. The working of the Holy Spirit in us conforms us to Christ, so that we can begin to live the new life that we are offered. Thus it is that joy triumphs over uncertainty, because the pledge offered to us by the coming of the Holy Spirit will never be diminished.
So wherever we are today, however our lives are going, the Spirit is with us. Inspired by the Holy Spirit’s action, we receive the courage to lift our hearts in hope, and the Spirit fills us, making us new.
Readings: Acts 2:1-11 | 1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13 | John 20:19-23
The image above is from the Dominican Church of St Rose in Springfield, KY.