More than a century ago, a great sailing ship was stranded off the coast of South America. Day after day, the ship lay there in the still waters with no hint of a breeze. The captain was frustrated and the crew was dying of thirst. One day, on the far horizon, a steamboat appeared, headed directly toward them. As the boat drew near, the captain called out, “We need water! Please send us some water!” The steamboat replied, “Lower your buckets where you are.” The captain was furious at this response but called out again, “Please, give us some water.” But the steamer gave the same response, “Lower your buckets where you are!” And with that, they steamed away! The captain was upset, furious, and angry, but out of frustration he went below. A little later, when no one was around, he lowered a bucket into the sea and then tasted the water he brought up. It was perfectly sweet and freshwater! In fact, the ship was just at the mouth of the Amazon river. They had been sitting right on top of the fresh water they needed not knowing what was available to them. Yes friends, what we are really seeking is already within us, waiting to be discovered and waiting to be embraced. The Holy Spirit of God has been living within us from the moment of our Baptism and Confirmation. The Holy Spirit is telling each of us today deep within our hearts, “Lower your buckets where you are!”
The word Pentecost in Greek (pentecostes) means “fiftieth.” This feast received this name because it was celebrated fifty days after the feast of the Passover. The Feast of Passover, the Feast of Tabernacle, and the Feast of Pentecost were three major feasts of the Jews. During these three great feasts, every male Jew living within twenty miles radius from Jerusalem was legally bound to go to Jerusalem to participate in the feast. Initially, Pentecost was a thanksgiving celebration for the completion of the harvest. During Passover, the first bushel of barley was offered to God and during Pentecost, two loaves of bread were offered in gratitude for the harvest. Later on, the Jews added to the Feast of Pentecost some element of Yahweh’s Covenant with Noah, which took place fifty days after the great deluge. Still, later, they made this feast an occasion to thank God for His Sinaitic Covenant with Moses, which occurred fifty days after the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt. Now Pentecost is celebrated by both the Jews and the Christians.
For Christians, Pentecost marks the end of the Easter season. It is also the day on which the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and the Blessed Mother Mary in the form of fiery tongues. This event took place fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus. The Paschal Mystery of Christ, which includes the Passion, the Death, the Resurrection, and the Ascension of Jesus, culminating into the descend of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The feast also commemorates the official inauguration of the Christian Church by the apostolic preaching of St. Peter, which resulted in the conversion of 3000 Jews to the Christian Faith. Pentecost is, thus, the official birthday of the Christian Church.
The Holy Spirit dwells within us; that is why St. Paul writes, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (I Cori 3:16). It is the Holy Spirit who develops our intimacy with God. “God has sent the Spirit into our hearts crying, ‘Abba!‘ (Father!’)” (Gal 4:6). “God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (I Cori 12:3). It is the Holy Spirit Who enlivens, enlightens, guides, and sanctifies the Church. Holy Spirit is the Paraclete, our Counselor, Comforter, Helper, Encourager, and Enabler in our daily lives.
Therefore, we need to permit the Holy Spirit to direct our lives by constantly remembering and appreciating His Holy Presence within us, primarily through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. We need to cultivate the Spirit of forgiveness in our dealings with others. We need to be Spirit-filled Christians who ask for strengthening, anointing, and guidance of the Holy Spirit every day. We are people called to allow the Spirit to change our lives; people who speak words that heal, restore, make people happy and build up people; instead of tearing them down. We are people who can pass on the love of God by our acts of kindness, mercy, and charity. We need to observe Pentecost every day of our life, as Christian life is the celebration of Pentecost. Let us pray today with Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, “Come Holy Spirit, make our ears to hear, make our eyes to see, make our mouths to speak, make our hearts to seek, make our hands to reach out and touch the world with your love”. Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts and set us on fire!
Fr. Tomy J. Puliyan, MSFS