Reflection for Pentecost Sunday
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
Influence, which is the ability to impact or effect a change on someone, is very significant in life. Everything we do or fail to do comes from internal or external influences. In short, life is a trajectory of influences, which could be direct or indirect.
Nobody previously believed that influencing people could be a dedicated career or profession. But today, we have men and women across the globe with huge followers who function as professional influencers with monetary profit attached.
However, beyond the craze and craving to influence others, the world seems to have forgotten that there is one eternal influencer, the animator of existence, the creator Spirit and the ultimate source of dunamis and exousia. The Holy Spirit. Come, let us take a moment to explore His power and influence.
The Pentecost Event
Today is Pentecost Sunday. The word “Pentecost” means fiftieth. Among the Jews, it designates the fiftieth day after Passover. In the Mosaic times, it was related to the Feast of Weeks (Deut.16:9-10). It was celebrated as a religious holiday that began at the beginning of the wheat harvest. It was a thanksgiving to the Lord God for his providence. At the same time, it commemorates the giving of the Law to Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:28).
From this brief description, we understand that the feast of Pentecost was an annual festival among the Jews, just as we have various national holidays around the world, like Memorial Day or Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America.
The Pentecost Day became very significant because it marked the day the Holy Spirit came down on the apostles and the other people who were present at the Upper Room during the outpouring event (Acts 2:1f), which was also a fulfillment of the promise of Jesus Christ: “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you (Acts 1:8).
Some bible scholars would call the event “Ecclesial Pentecost” because it marked the birth and animation of the church as an assembly of God’s people through the action of the Holy Spirit.
However, the Holy Spirit has been eternally in operation with the Father and the Son though not manifestly known as we do in the new dispensation.
In the book of Genesis (1:2), we learn that at the first moment of creation, “The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” This, by implication, was the first manifest presence of the Holy Spirit, which some bible scholars call “Cosmic Pentecost.”
Furthermore, in Genesis (2:7), we see another manifestation of the Holy Spirit at the creation of man when God breathed on the creature he had fashioned from the ground, and he became a living being. That breath communicated God’s Spirit into the being He created in His image and likeness. Some bible scholars would call this “Anthropological Pentecost.”
The Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus
The life and mission of our Lord Jesus Christ was an overwhelming work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, for Mary to get pregnant, she needed the Holy Spirit. When she asked, “How can this happen since I am a virgin?” And the angel Gabriel explained: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, so the child will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Luke 1:32).
After his baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil (Matt. 4:1). At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus declared the words of the prophet Isaiah (61:1), “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor, freedom to captives, sight to the blind and liberation of the oppressed. (Luke 4:18).
In the house of Cornelius, Peter mentioned how Jesus of Nazareth was anointed with the Holy Spirit and power and went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power (Acts 10:38).
Our Lord Jesus knew that the apostles would only be able to continue the ministry with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. This explains why he told them not to leave Jerusalem (Acts 1:4) and the promise that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit had come upon them to the end that they become witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Fellowship: In the first place, he said that he would ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit to be with us forever (John 14:16). We can see that the first ministry assignment of the Holy Spirit is to be a permanent resident with whom we have a fellowship.
St. Paul would always end his letter with,” the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Fellowship makes the presence and action of the Holy Spirit special after the Pentecost.
Teaching and guidance: The next function of the Holy Spirit is to teach and guide us. So, our Lord said, when the Holy Spirit comes, He will teach you everything and remind you of everything I have said (John 14:26).
True teaching comes with guidance, so our Lord said, “When the Spirit comes, He will guide you to the whole truth (John 16:13). Recall that the truth is Jesus himself.
Help: Help is the assistance we need to accomplish or sustain an endeavor. When Jesus said he would send another advocate, he meant another helper. Help is an important facility from the Holy Spirit.
The Letter to the Romans (8:26) tells us that the Spirit helps us in our weakness when we do not know what to pray for and how to channel our prayers. Any prayer said outside the ambiance of the Holy Spirit is just a lips service (Matt. 15:8).
Prayer is the channel through which we communicate, build, and maintain a relationship with God. Since God is Spirit, our prayer to Him must be spiritually animated (John 4:23-24). For this reason, St. Paul advised the Ephesians to pray always in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18). To pray in the Spirit; we need the Holy Spirit.
Another important function of the Holy Spirit is liberation. The bondage of the devil is broken by the power and action of the Holy Spirit.
In the Letter to the Romans (8:1ff), St. Paul said that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. In Second Corinthians (3:17), St. Paul added that the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.
Moving Forward: Living the Pentecost Experience
The Pentecost experience has not ended; we should continue to live by that experience. By Pentecost experience, we mean the ever-recurrent renewal we need. It implies inner transformation and change, enabling us to become what God wants us to be. The active spiritual encounter unites us in one accord like those who gathered in the Upper room.
Living by the Pentecost experience involves a progressive openness to the outpouring of the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, piety, fear of God, fortitude, and counsel. It has the ability to produce the fruits of peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, gentleness, and patience. (Gal. 5:22).
By the pledge of the Pentecost experience, we ask the Holy Spirit:
To recreate and make us the newest versions of ourselves (Psalm 104:30).
To help us in our weakness (Romans 8:26).
To Empower us (Act 1:8).
To reborn us (1 Pet. 1:23).
To teach us (Luke 12: 11-12).
To Guide us (John 16:13).
To Give us Boldness (Acts 4:31)
God bless you, and Happy Pentecost Sunday.