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Parish Life blog: Season of the Spirit

Fr Andrew Hamilton  |  07 May 2018

Most people know that at Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles and they began to preach.

When the disciples spoke boldly about Jesus’ death and rising, they gathered followers.

This was the beginning of the Church. But there is more for us in the feast than that. Pentecost is in fact the season of the Spirit in which we live, a season in which our lives are changed.

The background of Pentecost is significant. In Luke’s Gospel the Spirit came upon the twelve on a Jewish feast. It celebrated the gathering of the harvest and also the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt Sinai. For Luke God was now beginning to gather the harvest reaped by Jesus in his death and resurrection.  The Law given to Moses was also fulfilled when the promised Holy Spirit was poured out on the earth.

In Luke’s story the coming of the Spirit introduces a season of reconciliation. In the Old Testament the division between people was symbolised in the Tower of Babel and the subsequent confusing of languages.  That division is healed at Pentecost when people who came from many lands to celebrate the feast hear the disciples’ words in their own language. Jesus’ followers are then called to overcome divisions in the world by forming a church united by the Spirit of Christ.

After the story of Pentecost Luke describes in idealised terms what the church is like when it lives in the Spirit. It becomes a place of reconciliation where people gather to pray, and share their goods together. The divisions caused by inequality are overcome in the life of the community, and people of different cultures and rank are reconciled with one another. Reconciliation is another name for community – community grows when people are reconciled.

In the story of Pentecost, too, the fear that keeps people separated and hostile to one another is also healed by the Holy Spirit. Before the feast the disciples stick together out of fear that they might suffer the same fate as Jesus.  Fear is the great obstacle to reconciliation. After the Holy Spirit comes upon them they go out boldly into the streets and speak with people about Jesus and the coming of the promised Spirit.

Pentecost is central to the tradition that Jesuit Social Services inherits. Though many of our workers and the people with whom we work may not make that tradition their own, its summons to connection, to overcoming fear and to reconciliation are central in all our work with young people.

The feast celebrates the way in which we have been gathered into a community by the Spirit. It is a time to let go of our fear and shame in speaking of Christ and living as his followers. It is also a time to remember the roots we share with the Jewish people. We share the promises that God made to Moses, and we are both part of God’s harvest.  Pentecost is an invitation to reconciliation between Jews and Christians. It is also a time to commit ourselves by prayer, conversation and action to reconcile the huge differences and hostilities in our world. It is a season long enough to last a lifetime. 

Main image: Providence Doucet on Unsplash


Topic tags: prayerliturgyandthesacraments, ourrelationshipwithgod, scriptureandjesus

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