A scholarly attempt at an interpretation of Sunday's liturgical readings.

The feast of Pentecost is actually a time of transition.  “Transiting” from the time of Jesus physically being on earth proclaiming his message, to the time of his Ascension and having his disciples continue that proclamation to the world.  It is the Holy Spirit who provides the energy and motivation to have that proclamation become effective.

How does this happen?  In chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles, we notice  a focus on three  theological items of signifiant interest:  (1)-wind; (2)-fire; and (3)-Holy Spirit.

First of all “wind”.  In chapter 1 of Genesis we have the creation account, where we are aware of the beginning of a new world.  The biblical text tells us that “…the earth was void and empty, while a wind from God…” caused things to be.  The word wind comes from the Hebrew “ruah,” which is often  translated as “the creative power of God.”  So it was God’s creative power that brought about that first creation.

In the same reading from Acts we see that there is a “strong, driving wind that fills the room.”  A moving wind that is dynamic.  This means that there is a new creation taking place.  The disciples are empowered by the Holy Spirit (the “wind,” [ruah] creative power of God.)  The disciples/apostles are about to go and preach the message of Jesus, which is a message of justice and compassion.

Second, there next appears “fire.”  Fire is not only destructive, but constructive as well, that is, it warms people when cold, provides light, cooks food.  Fire is seen as a “power” and “energy,” for example, to be “fired up” about a project.  In the chapter from Acts, fire descends on each one of the disciples present, indicating that they are filled with the energy of the  Holy Spirit.

It was at Jesus’ baptism that the heavens opened and a voice said, “You are my Son…,”  and the Holy Spirit came down in the form of a dove.  (Mk. 1:9-11; Matt. 3:13-17;  Lk. 3:21-22; Jn. 1:29-34).  Thus it seems that at our Baptism we receive the Holy Spirit, empowering us

Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit (Photo credit: Glass.Mouse)

 to proclaim the message of Jesus to others.  Thus, our Baptism can also be called our personal Pentecost.

Third, the Holy Spirit.  In the Old Testament, what refers to as the “creative power of God,” in the Hebrew is ruah YHWH.  In the Book of Judges, some Judges receive the ruah YHWH, the creative power of God.  Thus we come to understand the Holy Spirit as the “creative power of God.”

One other thing we can learn from the feast of Pentecost, is that when we receive the Holy Spirit we are receiving the “creative power of God” which provides  the motivation and energy to preach the message of Jesus by word and example.

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