By Bishop David McGough
Pentecost Sunday Acts 2:1-11; 1 Corinthians 12: 3-7 & 12-13; John 20: 19-23 6 w hen Pentecost day came round, the apostles had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting."
The familiar description of the fust Pentecost emphasises the external signs that accompanied the gift of the Holy Spirit to the assembled Apostles. The mighty wind and the tongues of fire, remarkable though they were, were of less significance than the deeper transformation worked by the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised that his disciples would be clothed with power fturn on high. On Pentecost Sunday they began to understand how this power would transform the way in which they understood themselves and the world in which they lived.
The energy that we bring to any enterprise is directly dependent on its underlying motivation. A heart full of doubt and overwhelmed with its own inadequacy will achieve little of enduring value. The insecurity that preys on sinful lives will always breed the jealousy and division that undermine our best intentions. The Spirit of Pentecost demonstrated that this power, given from on :high, is greater than our inadequacies, more powerful than the frailties that so easily dissipate our best intentions.
Pentecost brought about a -wonderful freedom in the .Apostles. Those who had been bound by the uncertainties that limit the human condition experienced a greater power at work within themselves. They became the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
Often we remain locked within ourselves, not daring to venture beyond the fears and uncertainties, the guilt and insecurities that can so easily rule our inner lives. Faith enables us both to acknowledge such limitations and then to surrender them to the Spirit entrusted to us at our baptism and confirmation. St Paul confidently asserted that no one can say that Jesus is Lord unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The choice is ours: do we remain subservient to our own frailties or do we entrust ourselves to a spirit that can achieve more than we could ever ask or imagine? The Apostles who went forth at Pentecost had been transformed by an inner freedom. They no longer lived in a world of closed doors. The Spirit had opened the eyes of their minds, enabling them to believe in all that the Risen Lord would bring to their world. The same Holy Spirit was at work in those who listened, enabling them to discern in the Apostles the authentic voice of Christ. Wizen we remain faithful to the same Holy Spirit differences no longer divide us. Like the varied assembly at Pentecost we begin to speak with a single voice and a single understanding.
The Church is constantly renewed through the Holy Spirit. This is especially true in those times when we are tempted to feel that we alone can manage our lives, that we alone can manage the affairs of the Church. To think in this way is to submit to the tyranny of what we consider to be possible. Sooner or later we will retreat behind the closed doors of our dwindling resources. Humility allows the Spirit to breathe into our Jives afresh. We close doom in our fearfulness. The Holy Spirit opens them.