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Once, on the great rock of Masada by the Dead Sea, I observed a chameleon in the very act of changing colour as it moved from a clump of grass to the sandy rock.

The two worlds are of course Heaven and Earth; and in the first century as in the twenty-first many people supposed that these two worlds were supposed to stay firmly and safely apart. In ancient Israel the place of that commerce was of course the Temple, the spot on terra firma where Heaven actually overlapped with Earth; and the Temple thus functioned to the rest of Israel rather like the fireplace functions in a living room, the place where that which is normally dangerous can be safely located and dealt with.

But if you think of the Temple as the fireplace, providing warmth and light to the room while being in a safe spot, then the imagery of Pentecost stands out in all its starkness: here are the tongues of fire, touching down not on the Temple, or the priests about their normal activities, but on the disciples in the upper room! The fire has leapt out of the fireplace and seems to be setting light to the rest of the house!

And as the book of Acts proceeds that is indeed exactly the point. Pentecost is nothing if not the democratization of the Temple; which is why the first big clash between the followers of Jesus and the Jewish authorities, resulting in the first martyrdom, focusses on the question of the Temple and on the claim that in Jesus it has been upstaged, relativized, left behind.

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So the point of Pentecost is intimately linked to the point of the Ascension, ten days earlier. In Jesus the two worlds have met, without embarrassment and awkwardness — though we in our split-level western cosmology regularly feel that awkwardness and embarrassment at the story of the Ascension, and at the stained-glass pictures of Jesus disappearing into a cloud with his feet and ankles still just visible above the puzzled disciples.

No: the whole point of heaven and earth in Jewish thought is that they are meant to meet and merge. And the point of the gospel story as Luke has told it in his first volume is that Jesus had come to bring the life of heaven and earth together.

Easter and the Coming of the Holy Spirit - Franciscan Media

Thy kingdom come, he taught us to pray, on earth as in heaven. The disciples, we may presume, had been praying that prayer, among others, in the fifty days since Easter. And now the prayer is answered: like so many answered prayers, answered not in the way they might have imagined but in the much greater way which takes up their prayers and welds them into a new reality, the reality God intended all along and towards which their prayers were advance signposts. Supposing, instead of Caesar, or Herod, or the Chief Priests, we had God in charge instead — what would be different, how would things work?

We may imagine our schoolchild, grumbling under the harsh rule of a stern teacher, wishing that Dad or Mum could run the school instead; or perhaps, who knows, sometimes the other way round.

The Holy Spirit Comes As Promised

Israel had dreamed for many generations that her God would come and run the world instead of the horrid tyrants who were presently in charge; and that is what they took Jesus to be talking about, for the good reason that it was what he was talking about. Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. The next step is to choose a monthly or yearly subscription, and then enter your payment information.

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Acts 2. Acts 1 Acts 3. Bible Gateway Recommends. Consider for a moment what it must have been like when the Lord first appeared to the apostles after the Resurrection in that Upper Room. They were not expecting to see Jesus when he appeared and breathed on them. How do we experience the unexpected presence of Christ in our own lives? Recall the experience of your own confirmation, when the gifts of the Holy Spirit you received at baptism were strengthened and enriched with a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. How have you experienced those gifts in your life since that time?

For sure, you want those gifts to be renewed in your life! And so we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit in our lives:. Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.


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  5. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy his consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen. Peter J. Monsignor Peter J. John Paul II in , and has served since as chaplain of the John Carroll Society, a group of professional men and women in service of the Archbishop of Washington.