Another liturgical transition is upon us as the season of Pentecost begins this Sunday. I’m particularly drawn to this season because there are so many dimensions to the seemingly familiar story of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus and his Disciples came to Jerusalem, shortly before his arrest and execution, to celebrate the Passover Festival. Seven weeks and one day after Passover was a harvest festival known as the Festival of Weeks, and in the time of Jesus people would have made their way into the city, to the temple to offer sacrifices to God.
I find it intriguing that in the midst of the spiritual celebration of the Passover– the last supper Christ would share together with his followers, a miraculous act of Divine love begins to unfold in an upper room. Then, 50 days later, during another spiritual celebration, those lovers of Christ find themselves back in that same upper room… waiting… longing. Without fail, Divine love again unfolds in their midst and they are, again, forever changed.
The festival of Pentecost is sometimes referred to as the birth of the Church, but I think we are often too quick to focus on the imagery of the anointing of fire and the speaking in tongues as the miraculous moment of the story. The true miracle of Pentecost was what took place in the upper room, the Cenacle, before the tongues of fire. As they waited for the Spirit of God, they were becoming a new community. Only when they “were all with one accord, in one place” (KJV) could the sign of God be made visible and the ministry that Jesus had commissioned them to do, begin to manifest in the world.
May we remember, that as we gather together each week as a community of Christ’s followers, Divine love is in our midst. Our ability to live the truth of Christ and reflect his love in the world is empowered by our desire to seek a oneness with God and unity with one another. Then, just as the first disciples, we will experience a spiritual transformation and exit that upper room to truly begin our vocation, bringing the kingdom of God ever nearer.
Br. William White, CMJ