It is very common to hear some Christians saying “oh, how I wish to have lived in the time of Jesus, being there side by side with Him, listening to His words, touching his garment and seeing His deed”. Definitely it must have been a unique experience for those who were near Him. However, the people who lived alongside with Jesus didn’t have full understanding of what was going on.
Our Lord Jesus wasn’t clearly understood by those who were closer to Him. We can verify this in the Gospel in many occasions when He said “don’t you yet understand?” (Matt 15:16; Mk 8:17; Jn 8:43; Mk 4:11-13). We see sometimes the disciples, sometimes Peter, asking Him to explain the meaning of the parable He just told (Matt 13:36; Matt 15:15). That is why Jesus quotes the Book of Isaiah saying “Listen and listen, but never understand! Look and look, but never perceive!” (Isa 6:9-10).
After His passion, death and resurrection, it is not hard to imagine how afraid, uncertain and confused the apostles and disciples were. After all, their Master whom they so loved and trusted was no longer among them. What will happen now? What should we do? Where should we go? Should we return to our normal life as if nothing ever happened? These are some questions that we certainly would’ve made if we were on their position. The answer to this Christ Himself has given shortly before His passion and it is definitely worth reading:
“but the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you.” (Jn 14:26)
“But I have told you all this, so that when the time for it comes you may remember that I told you.
I did not tell you this from the beginning, because I was with you;
but now I am going to the one who sent me. Not one of you asks, ‘Where are you going?’
Yet you are sad at heart because I have told you this.
Still, I am telling you the truth: it is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes, he will show the world how wrong it was, about sin,
and about who was in the right, and about judgement: about sin:
in that they refuse to believe in me; about who was in the right:
in that I am going to the Father and you will see me no more;
about judgement: in that the prince of this world is already condemned.
I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you to bear now.
However, when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth, since he will not be speaking of his own accord, but will say only what he has been told;
and he will reveal to you the things to come.
He will glorify me, since all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine.
Everything the Father has is mine; that is why I said:
all he reveals to you will be taken from what is mine.” (Jn 16:4-15)
“And now I am sending upon you what the Father has promised.
Stay in the city, then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.” (Lk 24:49)
So who is this Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, the One who will teach and remind us of what Jesus have said and done? Who is the One that the Father has promised to send right after Jesus return to Him? The answer is: the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity. He is the Paraclete, a Greek word that can mean “the one who consoles, who comforts, the one who encourages or uplifts, who intercedes on our behalf as an advocate in court”. That is why He is often called the Advocate, the Comforter, the Teacher, the Helper as He was poured out upon us through the Sacrament Baptism and outpoured through the Sacrament of Confirmation.
As promised by Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples in the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. The city was packed with pious Jewish people from many nations (Act 2:5) as they came to celebrate the Feast of Harvest (Ex 23:16) or Feast of Weeks (Ex 34:22), a traditional festival that occurs fifty days after the Passover (Pentekostos, in Greek means “fiftieth”). There were about a hundred and twenty people besides the Apostles and some women, including Our Lady, gathered (Act 1:13-15) in the upper room, in a place also known as Cenacle.
As they were there praying, uncertain about their future and the future of what Jesus had said and done, something mysteriously happened: a sound of a violent wind coming from Heaven filled the place. Then, they saw tongues of fire that separated itself and rested upon each of their heads. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and strange things started to happen as they begun to speak in new languages that they did not know before. There was so much noise, probably of praise and thanksgiving and joy, that those who were outside could hear them and even thought they were drunk (Act 2:1-13). They were filled with courage, boldness, parresia (Greek word, meaning confidence, unreservedness in speech, assurance) it was as if they could finally understand the words and deeds of Jesus and now they had the strength from Heaven to fulfil His commandment “go out to the whole world, proclaim the gospel to all creation” (Mk 16:15).
On Pentecost day, the Church not only celebrates this event but invites us all to be part of it, to become Jesus’ witnesses (Act 1:8), empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Father’s promise. She invites us to go to the upper room, to the place where the people of God are gathered in prayer, to ask and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit as we say “Veni Creator Spiritus!”
And as we cry out to Him, He will come!
By Emanuela Cardoso