IN THOSE DAYS, when the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.
Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard the disciples speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs - in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s works of power.”
The descent, the gift of the Holy Spirit is the celebration of the Feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity. He was the wind that hovered over the formless earth during the creation of all things. He is the breath that enlivens every living thing. He is the seal with which we are sealed at baptism.
According to the revelation from God, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, through the Son. In this way, every action of (humanly speaking) involves every Person of the Trinity. In other words, the Father does not act independently of the Son or the Holy Spirit. Same applies to the Son and the Holy Spirit. One God in Three Persons always acts according to one will.
The Holy Spirit was given to the Church in order to continually draw us to Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells in Church, that's why we can confidently say that the teaching of the Church not only does not differ from the biblical teaching, but is a continuation or a living out of what Christ taught His disciples, and what God revealed through the prophets in the Old Testament.
In the Church we talk of the Tradition (capital "T" to differentiate it from small "t" traditions, which are local customs). The Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit in the Church. This is, again, why we can be certain that what Christ taught two thousand years ago and what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Church are one and the same thing.
The Holy Spirit is not unique to the New Testament. He was not invented by Christians. He was not revealed only to the Church. In the Old Testament, in fact, from the beginning of the creation, the Holy Spirit has been active because the Trinity acts in accord. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit inspired certain people to reveal the will of God to Israel. However, He did not dwell upon those people for the whole time.
In the New Testament time (in which we live right now), we see a slight change - the Holy Spirit is given to every baptized Christian and He dwells in us forever. Through the Holy Spirit we come to know God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
How, then, can Christians be capable of evil? Having God take abode in our heart does not prevent us from being ignorant, arrogant, and simply sinful, broken people. Take this simple example, give a fool $100 and he'll waste it on garbage. Give the same $100 to a smart person, and he'll spend it with benefit not only for himself, but, more importantly, for others.
The Holy Spirit does not leave us regardless of how we live. If we neglect this gift, then it can be for our condemnation. But we can also come to learn God's will and let the Holy Spirit guide us in this journey that we call life. It's totally up to us.
For last year's reflection, click here.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest