CHRISTIAN holidays matter because of their significance. For example, Christmas, because of the birth of Christ. Easter, because of the resurrection of Christ. And last week, Ascension Sunday, because of the return of the Resurrected Christ to his heavenly kingdom. But how about Pentecost, which we are to celebrate this coming Sunday? Does it matter?
Of course, it does, and for very important reasons.
First, Pentecost signals the start of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people. We do not serve a distant God. In Jesus, God chose to like us, and be with us. Now, in the Holy Spirit, he is not only with us or among us, but is, in fact, in us, if we are baptized in his name. Inside our churches we find God, but so, too, in our very own selves. As St. Paul tells us, our bodies are now temples of the Holy Spirit who lives in us (1 Cor. 6:19).
Second, Pentecost highlights the first fruits of our salvation in Christ. In the Old Testament Pentecost, the Jews were to offer the first fruits of their harvest to God, for he deserves the best from everything that belongs to him.
In the New Testament Pentecost, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit as proof of our adoption and as a deposit for eternal life. God assures us of the good things in the life to come, for “eye has never seen, ear has never heard, and mind has never conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:19).
Third, Pentecost marks the birth of the Church. To be sure, the Church is no longer just the building where people gather to worship. The Church is now the body of Christ – men and women in whom God, the Holy Spirit resides. And if the Holy Spirit resides in you, resides in me, and resides in all other Christian believers, then we must be united as one? one body, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all, and through all, and in all(Eph. 4:4-6).
Lastly, Pentecost emboldens us to Christian service. The apostles who fled away during the crucifixion of Jesus found themselves cowed with fear and locked at the upper room. But the Risen Jesus comes, not to condemn them but to offer them peace. Then he breathes on them the Holy Spirit. From then on, life was never the same again.
With the Holy Spirit, the apostles were emboldened to spread the good news – to preach the gospel to all peoples, nations, races, languages and races until the end of age. They were so inspired to evangelize, even when the cost of doing so includes persecutions, hardships, pains, wants, difficulties, and even death. God saw them through and confirmed their works with miracles and signs, if only to prove the authenticity of their Christian message. They were able to successfully complete their mission, not because of who they were, but because of who was in them.
This Sunday, let us thank God for the gift of Pentecost. Let us thank God for the indwelling presence of his Spirit, unworthy as we may be. Let us anticipate receiving the wondrous gifts of God to those who love him. Let us be thankful for our Church, and pray for a continued breath of power, love and holiness. With the Holy Spirit, may we continue fulfilling our role that the body of Christ may become a true reflection of its head.