Fr Bob Writes – June 8, 2014

We are given two very different descriptions of the Pentecost event this weekend in our readings. St Luke’s Pentecost in our first reading from Acts of the Apostles is a very noisy event, wind and fire sweeping through the house in which Jesus’ disciples are gathered. It is very reminiscent of the way in which God descended on Mount Sinai before the people of Israel in Exodus 19 and the way in which the dry bones of Ezekiel’ s vision (in chapter 37 of his book) come to life as the power of the breath of God falls upon them.

On the other hand, John’s account of Pentecost in our gospel this Sunday is an altogether quieter, more gentle occasion. The breath of Jesus on the apostles corresponds to the way God breathes life into the first human being in Genesis 2:7, and to the “still small breeze” by which God announces his presence to the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19.

Yet both events are a real imparting of the Spirit of God upon the Church. We are being reminded that the Holy Spirit “breathes as and where he wills” (John 3) and we should never try to predict how and where he will show up. The Spirit comes on an “inward journey” deep in our hearts to bring us into a close, personal, intimate relationship with God, and then sends us on our “outward journey” to preach the gospel of Christ.

It is usual to say that we “have” the Spirit through our baptism and confirmation. A more important question, perhaps, is: does the Spirit “have” us? Do we allow the Spirit to “blow as he wills ” in our lives, and in our churches, or do we try to control and tame his action? An archbishop in England a few years ago claimed that the Church was “terrified” of the Holy Spirit. In fact this is nothing new. Throughout the Bible, people try to “control” and “manipulate” God to do what they want and expect. God never bows to this kind of pressure. It is we who must bow to the action of God, surrendering to his Spirit and allowing Jesus to be Lord of our lives.