We all want a comforter and an encourager in our lives, someone who stays with us and helps us in our times of need, someone who guides us in truth and empowers us to fulfill all that is good. Where can we find such a comforter and helper, such a guide and one who empowers us?
Today, on the feast of Pentecost, we receive the answer. We celebrate and relive the coming of God’s Spirit upon all of humanity, upon you and me! God’s Spirit of Power and of Help comes upon each one of us and promises to stay with us always guiding, comforting, encouraging, and empowering! Can we even imagine such a blessing?
On the day of Pentecost 2000 years ago, the disciples were confused and shocked to experience, in the midst of their prayer, a rushing, mighty wind that brought tongues of fire upon each one of them. The Spirit of God so touched and imbued the apostles that they felt overwhelmed with joy and wonder. They joyously entered into the streets of Jerusalem causing a ruckus while proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. A crowd of thousands gathered around them, first thinking they were drunk from the cacophony of sounds they were making; the disciples were speaking in languages they didn’t even understand. Yet, the crowd heard a clear message of hope and wonder in their own particular languages.
What was happening? How did illiterate fishermen proclaim an unbelievable message of Good News in languages they didn’t even understand. They announced that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and through Him everyone could be baptized, would be forgiven of their sin and would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Everyone felt the presence of God in a tangible and powerful way!
The Apostle Peter explained what was happening through the words of the Prophet Joel, when he said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” From time to time in the Old Testament, we see the Spirit of God inspire and speak through particular people – through particular prophets, or patriarchs, or judges. Yet, Joel prophesized that a time would come when God will send His Spirit upon all flesh, all people!
This is the promise that you and I can embrace and find great comfort today on Pentecost! I always repeat the central idea of our faith that “God is with us!” Yet, how is God with us? One of the fundamental ways is through His Holy Spirit dwelling in us!
Each of us received His Holy Spirit on the day of our baptism. We renew the Holy Spirit within us through our worship every time we gather together and participate in the Holy Eucharist. In our daily prayers, the first prayer we offer up is to the Holy Spirit – “O heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth who are present everywhere and who fills all things, the treasurer of blessings and the Giver of life, come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.” And today on this feast of Pentecost we will kneel down and pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to renew us once again, to come upon us anew!
Of course, the Good News is that God wants to come to us. He longs to fill us with His Spirit! He desires to give us the fruit of His Spirit in our daily lives – so that we can live with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.” This fruit of the Spirit is a gift He freely offers each one of us! It’s our decision whether we open up our hearts and lives and live with His Spirit guiding, comforting, encouraging and empowering us!
Jesus says in today’s Gospel reading, “If anyone thirst, let them come to Me and drink. The one who believes in Me as the Scripture said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. By this He spoke concerning the Spirit.” (John 7:37-39) Imagine, the Spirit of God comforts our thirsty souls by flowing “like rivers of living water” within us!
Jesus promised His followers, “I will pray to the Father and He will give you another Helper, that this Helper (the Holy Spirit) may abide with you forever.” (John 14:16) We all need constant encouragement in our lives and Christ offers us this aid and succor!
Christ goes on to encourage us, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13) During a era when the world bombards us with confusion and deception, the Spirit of God guides us in divine, eternal Truth!
Our Lord’s final words to His friends were that they would never be alone and on their own in whatever they faced in life. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the world.” (Acts 1:8) We will never face the world’s trials, any overwhelming challenges and fearful uncertainties with our own might. The Psalmist declared, “The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation.” (Psalm 118:14) With the Holy Spirit we receive the power to acts as Christ’s ambassadors to the world, to face whatever the world brings us with courage and strength because He is with us, His Power dwells in us!
Today on this feast of Pentecost remember what we celebrate and the precious promises our Lord made to each one of us. Christ desires to give us His Holy Spirit to comfort us by quenching our thirsty souls, to help us with His encouragement, to reveal to us the truth of life, and to fill us with His Divine Power!
May we each open up our hearts today and receive the Holy Spirit as our guide, our comfort, our encourager, and the One who empowers us!