Sunday, May 27 (O.S., May 14), 2018: Eighth Sunday of Pascha, Pentecost-Trinity Sunday;
Martyr Isidore of Chios (251). Martyr Maximus, under Decius (250). Ven. Serapion the Sindonite, monk, of Egypt (542). Ven. Nicetas recluse of the Kyiv Caves (1109). St. Leontius, patriarch of Jerusalem (1175).
What must that first Pentecost have been like for the disciples and apostles?
Just 10 days ago they saw Jesus ascend into heaven. However joyful that was, it means that–once again Jesus has left them. And the pain of that loss is beginning to make itself felt. As their memories and love for Jesus wane, their fear of the Jews takes hold growing ever stronger.
And so they hide. They return to the upper room where they celebrated their last Passover with Jesus.
And they wait for the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to them that they will be clothed with power from on high.
And as they wait, they wonder. What have they gotten themselves into? Jesus is gone. And, out there, are the people who crucified their friend.
And didn’t Jesus tell them, that they too will be hated? If they crucified Jesus what would they do to his disciples?
And then, FIRE!
Tongues of fire appear and come to rest on the heads of the disciples!
And suddenly, in an instant, fearful men and women become fearless preachers of the Gospel!
And, wonders of wonders, not only do they proclaim the Resurrection, their words are understood by those who don’t speak Aramaic.
At first, they are accused of being drunkards. But just as faith retreated and fear asserted itself, now skepticism gives way to faith. Thousands believe and are baptized.
And then what?
What must it have been like on the day after Pentecost when the disciples and apostles to woke up and realize–however faintly–the enormity of what they did?
Or rather, what God did through them.
What must it have been like to wake up the day after Pentecost and realize that now you were responsible for preaching a Gospel that will in short under turn the world on its head?
What must it have been like to realize that you were now leaders of thousands of new believers in Jesus Christ?
Make no mistake. The apostles were right to be worried.
These weren’t wealthy or powerful. They were illiterate men and women living on the margins of a society that was itself on the margin of a vast, wealthy and powerful empire that, for all its grandeur, was cruel.
The disciples and apostles weren’t anyone’s idea of leaders. Least of all, their own.
And yet, God choose them to be His witnesses to the world. It fell to these poor, illiterate, marginal men and women to renew the human family grown old and rigid because of sin.
Today these men and women receive the “Gift of the Holy Spirit” even as we did at chrismation. In this One Gift we, like them, received many gifts.
And all gifts contained in the Gift have one purpose: To draw others to Christ. To renew the whole human family by the renewal of each human person heart.
Unlike the disciples on that first Pentecost, the Church is now rich and even powerful.
And yet, like the disciples of that first Pentecost, for all that we have gained materially and culturally, we too are poor.
Or maybe better, we too have been given a task that–apart from the gift of the Holy Spirit–is beyond the abilities of even the most talented among us.
My brothers and sisters in Christ! The task given to the disciples on that first Pentecost is given to us today. Their vocation, their calling, is ours as well.
And like the disciples on that first Pentecost, God pours out His Spirit on us today and every day making up by His grace what is lacking in us.
And all this He does for one reason, and one reason only: To renew the human family by restoring each human heart to communion with Himself through His Son our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit!
So let us take up the task we have been given!