The story of Pentecost is a real stunner! Jesus’ disciples, who’d been such wimps — fearful, aimless, hanging out in the upper room since Jesus’ Ascension — are suddenly transformed into fearless leaders, for whom nothing seems impossible.
In the past, as we’ve talked about this stunning event, we’ve described it in terms of the arrival, the coming, or the descent of the Spirit, upon the apostles. That language is really quite unhelpful and deceptive, for it suggests that the Holy Spirit somehow arrived at some place the Spirit hadn’t been before. And that isn’t true.
Our faith says the Holy Spirit of God is everywhere at all times. So what did happen? The Spirit of God didn’t change. The apostles did. These men whose hearts were frozen shut for a variety of reasons, finally were able to trust God enough to open their hearts to receive within, the Spirit who had always been there — held somewhat at bay outside. It was that accepting and receiving and taking in of the Spirit that made all the difference. And how hard that is to do, in part because we’re not so sure we want that transformation to happen just yet.
Remember how St. Augustine prayed for the grace of conversion during his wild and sinful youth? “Give me your grace, Lord. But not yet!”
We celebrate Pentecost because we need to do what the apostles did — and do it now: accept and receive within us the Spirit who has been present to us from the moment of birth.
May God help us to pray “Come Holy Spirit” with hearts that are truly open! Amen.