Awaiting Pentecost

“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”           (Jn 14:26)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, “By his coming, which never ceases, the Holy Spirit causes the world to enter into the “last days,” the time of the Church, the Kingdom, already inherited, though not yet consummated.” (CCC 732)

We are in that part of the Liturgical Year that is highlighted in the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. After the crucifixion of Our Lord on Good Friday, the world and Jesus’s disciples are in darkness and despair (Lk 23:44-45, Mk 15:33, Mt 27:45, Lk 24:21). But now we find that our Lord has been raised and the disciples are abuzz with the news. How could this be and what does it mean? (Some doubted: Mt 28:17)

As with most of us, the Apostles still didn’t understand. Witness the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35). They were discussing the events, including the empty tomb that had been discovered that morning, but no Jesus, not even his body. Suddenly a third person joined them and, asking what they were talking about, joined the discussion. Soon this stranger was explaining to them all they had not yet understood about the Christ, the need for him to suffer, the prophecies that all pointed to him; a comprehensive scripture lesson. Their hearts burned as he spoke. After asking him to stay with them, he joined them at supper and at the breaking of the bread they recognize Jesus. We can also assume that at this point they also had a better understanding of Jesus and His mission (but not yet a better understanding of their mission).

The daily readings are taking us though the early Church, the commissioning of deacons, and the conversion of St. Paul (who was Saul at the stoning of Steven and persecutor of Jesus, the body of Christ, the Church), and, especially important, Chapter 6 of the Gospel of St. John. This amazing chapter takes us through Jesus’s walking on water, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes and, most importantly, the Bread of Life discourse, prefiguring the Eucharist given to us at the Last Supper. This will lead us to the Ascension of our Lord and the missionary mandate (Catechism 849-856, Mt 28:19).

But, as yet the Apostles and disciples still do not fully understand all that Jesus has tried to teach them (Jn 16:12) but He promises them they will understand “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you to all the truth” (Jn 16:13).

And so, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we are awaiting the Spirit of truth who will not only bring us understanding and guidance but also brings us strength as He does to the Apostles on Pentecost. Look at the change in St. Peter after the Holy Spirit descends upon him and the other Apostles and disciples, no longer in hiding, but speaking boldly to the crowds. We need to accept the Holy Spirit ourselves so we can undergo a similar change and live the lives Jesus commanded us to do, remembering that He is with us always, “to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).

Submitted to The Catholic Virginian April 29, 2023

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