Fifty days have passed since we celebrated the Lord’s Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Today, the Feast of Pentecost brings the Easter season to an end. In the Gospel, Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on his disciples, bringing peace and forgiveness of sins. Yet in the First Reading, the coming of the Spirit seems anything but peaceful. The signs of the coming of the Spirit are a noise like a strong wind, and tongues of flame that rest on the disciples’ heads.
Today’s feast celebrates the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives power to Jesus’ disciples to overcome the divisions of the human race, caused by our different languages and nationalities. At Pentecost, people from the many nations of the Roman Empire can hear and understand the disciples’ preaching about the marvels that God has worked. The disciples themselves are transformed; they leave behind their fear and anxiety, and become bold preachers and missionaries. They are no longer afraid to give their lives for Jesus.
We receive the Holy Spirit in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. The Spirit can be as powerful in us as in the first disciples. The Spirit has power to overcome division, to bring peace and understanding, and to forgive our sins. The power of the Holy Spirit can transform us into fearless witnesses for Christ, just like the disciples. In this time of pandemic, the powers of this world seem to be shaken up and disrupted. We see clearly that all earthly power has its limits. But there is no limit to the power of the Holy Spirit.