Reflection for the Feast of Pentecost
Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
If you ask an average Christian if they know the Holy Spirit, you may get an affirmative answer based on the common knowledge of the His identity with the Holy Trinity. While that knowledge is basic, it does not however show what the Holy Spirit does.
On another level, some people presume that the Holy Spirit is part of the exuberant gymnastics of pentecostal and charismatic Christians which is another error.
However, the identity of the Holy Spirit is beyond the third Person of the Trinity and other descriptions. A better and truer knowledge of the Holy Spirit would help us celebrate Him more intentionally and experience Him profoundly.
The Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood Person of the Holy Trinity. Recall that St. Paul asked some Christians at Ephesus if they received the Holy Spirit when they believed, and answering, they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” (Acts 19:2). This instance demonstrates that some Christians could be ignorant of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is not an angel, a bird, fire, wind, or any symbolic form we see in some religious pictures. Instead, the Holy Spirit is God and a Person with will, emotions, and intellect.
Book of Genesis (1:2) began with an exposition of the active presence of the Holy Spirit over the surface of the formless earth and the deep. The next functional fact was when God formed man from the dust of the earth, and we could recall that God breathed on him the breath of life, and he became a living soul. (Gen. 2:7).
We learn here that one of the enduring functions of the Holy Spirit, which also identifies Him, is that He vitalizes. So, the Holy Spirit is the divine technology behind every living thing that is created. Psalm (104:30) says: “when you send your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.” So, there is no life without the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit in the Life and Mission of Christ
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. Recall that she said, “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).
Before the Lord’s public ministry, he declared upon himself 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. (Luke 4:18). The Acts of the apostles (10:38) tells us 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.
The Christian life is impossible without the Holy Spirit
Recall that before the ascension, our Lord asked the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they receive the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). So, the reception of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was as important as the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven; why? Because without the coming of the Holy Spirit, there would be no Church and Christianity.
Let’s look at the events on the day of Pentecost very closely. Before the Holy Spirit rested on the disciples in the upper room, He first impacted the place where they were sitting, representing the Church (Acts 2:2). However, we must note that the Church is not the building, but the assembly gathered in one place and in one accord (Act 2:1).
Moving Forward: What do we expect from the Holy Spirit?
Our Lord Jesus Christ did not keep the disciples in the dark about the work description of the Holy Spirit.
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 or communion. The Holy Spirit has been with us but unnoticed, unknown, and unreceived (John 14:17).
Teaching and guidance: The next function of the Holy Spirit is to teach and guide us. So, our Lord said, the when the Holy Spirit comes, He will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you (John 14:26).
True teaching comes with guidance, so our Lord also said, “when the Spirit comes, He will guide you to the whole truth (John 16:13). Why? Because we live in a world of so many lies powered by the devil, the Father of lies (John 8:44).
Help: Help is the assistance we need to accomplish or sustain an endeavor. When Jesus was saying he would send another advocate, he meant another helper. Help is an important facility from the Holy Spirit.
Just as Jesus needed the Holy Spirit every step of the way in his earthly ministry, we need the Holy Spirit to pray (Romans 8:26; Eph. 6:18), worship God (John 4:23-24), and understand the hidden things about God (1 Cor. 2:10-11). The Holy Spirit also gives us His gifts (Isaiah 11:2, 1 Cor 12.7-11) in order to bear fruits (Gal. 5:22). In fact the Christian is impracticable and impossible without the Holy Spirit!
Every celebration of the feat of the Pentecost offers us a fresh opportunity for a new encounter with the Holy Spirit. So may we keep the portals of our hearts open for His gifts that would help us bear fitting fruits.
God bless you!