Pentecost, May 19, is a solemnity — the highest ranking liturgical feast — and it celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. It serves as the grand and glorious conclusion to the 50-day Easter Season — seven continuous weeks that celebrate the greatest mystery of the Christian faith, the resurrection. It brings the paschal mystery to completion.
The vestments are red, symbolizing the Holy Spirit that descended upon the apostles in the form of a strong, driving wind and tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them. Immediately they were filled with the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:1-4).
It was an outpouring of the Spirit on each apostle individually and the Church collectively. The Spirit imbued the apostles with great love, led them to the truth, set their faith ablaze and filled them with much zeal.
This immeasurable grace was the birth of the Church. Through the Spirit, the Church is sanctified or made holy. By the power of the Spirit each person is united to Christ, and the people of every nation, race and language are unified in the profession of one faith. The annual celebration of this feast makes the graces first bestowed upon the apostles available to every believer in every subsequent generation.
The apostles were average performers at best, and they needed to make major upgrades. Jesus spent countless hours with them. He gave them his warm friendship and personalized instruction, invited them to be his companions and performed amazing miracles before them.
In spite of this, the apostles were terrified during the storm at sea, failed to understand the parables, were unable to expel some demons, fought among them-
selves over who was most important, and abandoned and betrayed their master. They were unable to comprehend who Jesus was or what he expected of them. Even after the resurrection they remained bewildered, isolated, afraid and silent.
But, on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit galvanized the apostles’ faith. It was a metamorphosis of epic proportions. The apostles emerged from the cocoon of the Upper Room completely remade. They were on fire with love for Jesus!
Once fearful, they became bold and courageous. Once silent, they became assertive and outspoken. Once cautious, they took tremendous risks. Once followers, they became leaders. Once weak, they performed great and mighty deeds in Jesus’ name. Once concerned with safeguarding their own lives, they became willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel.
Making Jesus known
The Holy Spirit that transformed the apostles on the first Pentecost has the power to transform each of us. The Spirit poured out on the first apostles is also poured out on us in the celebration of Pentecost, the sacraments, prayer and multiple other ways.
Pentecost is an invitation to be bold! Catch fire! Love! Forgive! Share! Serve! Speak the truth! Do great and mighty deeds! Make the name of Jesus known and loved!
Father Van Sloun is pastor of St. Stephen in Anoka.
Category: The Lesson Plan