Pentecost is here and This Sunday is what everything has been leading up to – Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension: the coming of the Holy Spirit, the descent of the Paraclete, the pouring down of the fullness of love proceeding from the Father and the Son. New vitality for a weary people and we certainly need a new vitality in our present day and age with so many people searching for something lasting for their lives. The Holy Spirit is Like a bonfire that makes your heart leap up; like a heat wave in July(Heres Hoping)! after a cold and cloudy April May and June. Like a spring of clear water deliciously refreshing. Like a white dove that inspires perfect gentleness; like a mighty March wind that invigorates the first green growth.
Pentecost is the fruitfulness of the Church as Mother in the midst of the Apostolic Community, overshadowed and filled as once before with the Power from God, bringing forth again – but in a different form – the body of Christ, the Church. It is a dazzling spectacle of sound and light, of wind and fire, tongues and voices, a joyful cacophony of ecstasy and praise, of preaching and proclamation. In this upper room the local Church and the Universal Church are perfectly united one in heart and mind. This is not just a revelation of the Church’s beginnings. It is an apocalyptic vision of the end, of how things will be when Christ comes again in his glory at the consummation of the ages.
But the vision is momentary. The Church of the Holy Spirit must bear in its body all the wounds that were borne in the body of its Saviour on the cross and in our present situation here in Ireland we certainly see the wounds of the Church being borne by Jesus on the Cross. Not until the eschaton would the Christian community experience in its’ outward appearance, the inner perfection of what it really is. Instead it would be racked by division, scarred by sin, torn apart by heresy and schism, humiliated by the world, betrayed from within, judged from without – and yet would endure as a sign of salvation on earth when all other societies, systems and ideologies had passed into the history books.
What is it about the Church that causes it to continue from the first Pentecost right up until 2012? Impoverished in its sinful members, often without influence; its authority frequently ignored and still it goes on, proclaiming the gospel, celebrating a crucified Christ, dragging itself along the way of the cross, looking towards the future with a hope that never deserts it. It has no earthly reason for doing so. Only a divine Spirit accounts for its touching courage. The indwelling Paraclete is a restless Spirit; it will not let you rest and that is why our hearts are restless until they rest in God.
For us as the Church we are on a pilgrimage which I often refer to the pilgrimage of life and it is the Spirit’s mission to bring the pilgrim Church home. Pentecost is a reminder of how this all began, who it is that leads us. It is also a foretaste of the future, of what has already been accomplished and lies in store at the journey’s end. In the tension between the `already here and now’ and the `not yet but to come’, we live by the Spirit who once led Jesus to the desert and the cross and who leads us still in the certain conviction that he who began this good work in us will indeed bring it to completion.