Acts 2: 1 – 11
1 Corinthians 12: 3 –
John 20: 19 – 23
Today we celebrating the Solemnity of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit as a git from
the Risen Lord. The first followers of Jesus were not strong, they were not courageous or even
very faithful. They denied and deserted him when he needed them the most. After his death
they hid themselves away in fear. They had lost all heart and hope.
Actually, the Holy Spirit had already been given to the disciples when Jesus appeared to them
after the resurrection. He breathed on them the Holy Spirit by saying: “Receive the Holy
Spirit… do not be afraid.” But still, they remained sad and afraid that what happened to Jesus
Christ might also happen to them. It was only after 50 days that the apostles finally realized
that the Holy Spirit did. Indeed, descended upon them and they became courageous.
We see the church on fire today. However, it is not the church building on fire, but the Church
the people are on fire. That is what we see in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
The Church was on fire. Why “fire?” Fire is the symbol of transformation! Fire changes
whatever it touches. Fire transformed former fishermen, tax collectors into disciples and
A family driving a large camper pulled up in front of the church just as the pastor started
towards home. Desiring to be friendly, the parish priest introduced himself and expressed his
admiration for the camper. The man of the family told him rather proudly: “This camper sleeps
eight people.” Then he asked: “What is the capacity of your church, Pastor?” The beleaguered
pastor replied rather glumly, “Oh, it sleeps about eighty.”
It is embarrassing sometimes how little our modern day Church resembles the Church of that
first Pentecost: the sound of a wind storm, tongues of fire, disciples speaking in different
languages, thousands being added to the Church and lots of excitement – excitement
A. J. Gordon Says: “Before Pentecost the disciples found it hard to do easy things; after
Pentecost they found it easy to do hard things.”
The poet William Blake waxed eloquent about Pentecost. Part of his poem says:
“Unless the eye catch fire, God will not be seen.
Unless the ear catch fire, God will not be heard.
Unless the tongue catch fire, God will not be named.
Unless the Heart catch fire, God will not be loved.
Unless the mind catch fire, God will not be known.”
In this poem, the word “unless”, begins with each petition. It invokes an urgent response.
Unless you do something, nothing will happen. Lukewarm is not good enough. For us to be
Pentecost people, we need to consensually sizzling and aflame with the Holy Spirit.
Unless the eye of Moses had “caught fire”, he would not have see the burning bush. On the day
of Pentecost, we might pray for vision and insight to see the world as it really is, and see God at
work in and around us.
Fire does not last long if starved of oxygen, or if there is nothing to burn.
Mission begins with a single, burning heart. The disciples did not develop a strategy, but they
were first set ablaze with the power of the Holy Spirit. Their minds were reoriented and
renewed to wonder, think, and question. New ideas were forged in the furnace of faith, which
purged away the chaff of prejudice and judgement, to make a way for justice and peace.
It’s interesting that some of the people who were there reached the conclusion that the apostles
were drunk, because it tells us something of the excitement and joy that prevailed on that day.
Such as the change that the apostles experienced.
The first reading said that the strangest thing happens to the disciples: The house shakes with
the sound of a mighty wind and the sight of fire! These weak and frail men and women were
transformed. Through the Holy Spirit, they are given new hope, a new heart and new purpose.
There is a story about three prospectors who found a rich vein of gold in California during the
gold rush days. They realized what a great discovery they had, an decided, “We’ve a really
good thing going here as long as no one else finds out about it,” So they each took a vow to
keep it secret.
They then headed for town to file their claims and get the equipment necessary to mine the
gold. True to their vows, they didn’t say a word to anybody. They filed their claim, bought the
equipment and headed back to their mine. But when they did, a crowd of people followed
And the reason was because the expression on their faces had given them away. Their faces
were aglow in anticipation of the wealth that soon would be theirs. People knew that they must
have found something very special. So a crowd followed them out of town.
It’s kind of sad, isn’t it, that some have the impression that when we come to church it is all
gloom and doom, and that there is nothing here to really bring joy into our lives?
On the day of Pentecost, let us pray for a burning heart and courage to transform our lives as
well as the lives of others. We have an extraordinary strength that does come from us, it is the
strength of the Holy Spirit in us, which comes when we invoke him.