The Holy Spirit and the Church give witness to the Risen Christ.
Fear, anxiety, loneliness and the loss of their master – Jesus, urged the disciples to go into seclusion in the upper room to prepare in prayer for the intervention of God. Their only hope was Divine mediation. Jesus had advised them to pray to God to send them a helper/paraclete. Then again, Jesus promised that He would himself send them a guide. Pentecost is the celebration of the coming of this promised Councilor, the Advocate.
The Spirit who descended on the apostles is the same creative Spirit we saw in action in the Old Testament. It is the Spirit that hovered over the formless void Who kick started creation. This Spirit gave life to the dry bones in the vision of Ezekiel. It is the Spirit that guided and guarded the Israelites, day and night, in the desert. This Spirit anointed prophets to boldly proclaim the message of God. It is the same Spirit that formed Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary. It is through the confession of the same Spirit that Jesus inaugurated His public ministry at Jordon. And now, it is the same Spirit that is descending on the apostles and the church that they may give witness with courage to the resurrection of Christ.
The Spirit gives life, joy, vitality and strength. It renews everything for God. The descending of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is regarded by some as the second creation. On this day, God through the Holy Spirit, renews and completes His covenant with humanity and makes them His sons and daughters in His son Jesus Christ. Therefore, the work of the Holy Spirit is to continue the work of salvation that is begun in Christ and He uses the Church to make it happen.
For John the evangelist, the Holy Spirit is the risen presence of Jesus in the world. The entire mystery of the Cross – the hour – encompasses death, resurrection and giving of the Holy Spirit. For John, the Church is born at the foot of the cross and, therefore, should give witness to the resurrection of Christ. It is through the working of the Spirit that the Church dispenses the salvific graces, received at the foot of the Cross, to the entire world.
In John’s Gospel we read that on the Cross Jesus “bowed His head and gave up His Spirit” (John 19:20). After the resurrection, on the same day evening “He breathed on the disciples and said to them, receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). The Holy Spirit, which was the breath and life of Christ has now become the breath and life of the Church.
The manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost completes the Mystery of the Cross and unites everything that was divided through hope, faith and charity. To give witness to Christ we must first become the people of Pentecost.
–Fr. Ranjan D’Sa