“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be by my witnesses…to the ends of the earth,” (Acts 1:8)
As Jesus’ Apostles gathered in the upper room, most likely consumed with anxiety, fear, and confusion, they clung to these words that Jesus spoke to them at the Ascension, hoping that they would soon be fulfilled. “Suddenly, there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were [and] the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” (Acts 2:2,4)
Fifty days after the celebration of Easter, we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers, and the beginning of the ministry of making disciples of all nations through the proclamation of the Gospel.
Pentecost needs to be an ongoing reality in our lives too
. In a 2013 homily, Pope Francis proclaimed, “The Pentecost of the upper room in Jerusalem is the beginning, a beginning which endures.” We are called and chosen to live out the reality of Pentecost in our daily lives, and, just like the apostles, it is essential that we proclaim the Gospel and make disciples of those around us.
Sometimes, I find this command to be daunting and lock myself in the “security” of the upper room of my mind.
There I allow fear, anxiety, and control to reign. Pentecost reminds me that I am called to break free of these chains and live a life in the Holy Spirit, where I spend more time serving others than serving myself. This command may sound overwhelming. Therefore, it is crucial to remember that we are not left unequipped for the task.
The stories of the Ascension and Pentecost begin the Acts of the Apostles. Throughout the rest of the book, we are given guidance on how to live this life in the Spirit. At the heart of the book is the belief that when we conform our will to His, we can draw others into this same union with the Holy Spirit.
At the beginning of Acts, the apostles were concerned with how to choose Judas’s successor. In their supplications, they declared their trust in the Lord by acknowledging that He knows their every need even better than they do. To live boldly in the Spirit, we must also claim the truth that God, in His providence, will provide all that is necessary for us to accomplish the tasks assigned to us. He will not abandon us or leave us lacking.
It is also important to remember that God’s timeline is frequently vastly different than our own.
I once heard a priest comment, that God often takes the long way. In Acts 7, Stephen gives a summation of the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the Promised Land to remind us of this point. We should strive to reflect upon and remember that although we may not understand God’s timing, it is always perfect.
As God intended for the Israelites, a journey can allow us to appreciate more fully the destination. The journey becomes our path to healing where we allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate our brokeness and glorify it into perfection. Our unique stories in living out a life in the Spirit are essential to this journey.
Our stories—the broken parts, the joyous moments, and all the ordinary bits—are essential to God’s plan. They are sacred. They are healing. And, we should not be ashamed to share them.
Along the way, another person’s life may be changed by you sharing your story.
Paul shares his radical conversion story multiple times in Acts, highlighting the impact that sharing God’s work in our own lives can have. Our individual stories can foster conversion and discipleship in the lives of others. When we share our stories with one another, we create opportunities for connection and community, both of which are essential parts of human life. This can become fertile ground for intimacy and growth in living a life in the Spirit.
Sharing God’s work in our lives will require boldness, courage, and perseverance on our part.
Acts is filled with countless stories of the early disciples living out these virtues while sharing the love of Christ, often in the face of death and persecution.
Finally, Acts reminds us of the power of praise and thanksgiving in proclaiming the Gospel to all nations.
Having a heart of worship and gratitude, even in the most disparaging of circumstances, can turn the hardest of hearts towards love and conversion.
Today, let us live out a new Pentecost and invite the Holy Spirit into our lives in a new and deeper way, knowing that when we surrender our lives to Him we will never be the same. We will be transformed by allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit will empower us to carry out our unique mission in proclaiming the Kingdom of God to a world in desperate need of healing, love, and hope!