Today, being the seventh Sunday after Easter, we commemorate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and the birth of the Christian Church.
The 50th day after the Resurrection of Christ, the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit made His official entrance into the Church. This took place as …
“When the day of Pentecost has come, they (the Apostles) were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).
This miraculous event changed the attitude of the Apostles and others, who because of fear of arrest and punishment by the Jews were together in the “upper room.” This attitude of fear and doubt was reversed, turning into courage and the bold faith to preach to all people. These Apostles and their disciples immediately became heralds and preachers of the Gospel of Christ.
Despite their belief that the Lord had risen from the dead and appeared to them, showing them the wounds of His hands, walking with the two to Emmaus and speaking to them often, the Apostles were fearful and unable of themselves to face the people and begin their commission. From the day of the arrest of Christ, the Apostles showed great weakness. They not only were unable to fight against the false accusations and slanders, but some also scattered and went into hiding. Even Peter, the pillar of the apostles, denied under oath that he even knew Christ.
Such was the condition of the Apostles and other disciples of Christ up to the day of Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Spirit. All these weaknesses were foretold by Christ, especially on the day before His arrest.
But what an abrupt change came over the Apostles and disciples on this day of Pentecost. Fear and doubt turned to courage and strong faith. They recalled all that Christ had taught them; their conviction became deep and abiding. Their intention, spiritual power and attitude toward the killers of Christ was the substance of their steadfast preaching.
How did the Apostles receive so abruptly this changing power? How did the Apostles receive strength and durability? This changing power came from the Holy Spirit. He recalled to their minds the inexhaustible, eternal source of the Wisdom of the Christian Message. This changing Power came upon the Apostles and disciples on the day of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy Spirit.
It engulfed them “like the rush of a mighty wind. . . And there appeared to them tongues as of fire. . . distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (vs. 2, 3,4). This changing Power transformed them into great heralds and preachers of the Word of God. The Apostles emerged boldly from their hiding place into the open to preach, teach, and heal everyone in the name of Christ, “and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (v. 4).
The descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles, assembled in the Upper Room, signaled the official birth of the Church and its presentation to the world.