You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I, the LORD, am your God and there is no other. And my people shall never again be put to shame. Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit. (Joel 2:27-29)
When Luke wants to give a context for the gift of the Spirit he finds it in the liturgy of the Jewish people. The Feast of Pentecost was celebrated 50 days after Passover and it marked the completion of God’s saving work in bringing the chosen people out of slavery in Egypt. On Pentecost the Jews celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. This is the gift by which they entered into a covenant with their liberator God. This is the teaching that would form them into the people of God. Sadly, we translate this word as Law as if it were just about commandments – it is much more than that, it is a guide for life. So now, when Luke wants to help his readers understand the gift of the Spirit and the birth of the new people of God living a new covenant he speaks of Pentecost. He depicts Peter in his great Pentecost, quoting a dynamic and visionary text from the prophet Joel who dared to imagine a new day when God’s Spirit would be freely given to all. The outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh points to a new creation when everyone is inspired to recognise that God is in their midst, that we are all invited to play our part in realising God’s dream for the world. Joel’s vision has come to pass through Jesus’ faithful proclamation of the Reign of God, his death and his resurrection. It is his Spirit that is poured out, this is the power from on high that he promised and it transforms our understanding of God and empowers us to live fully this Good News, the Gospel of the universal love of God. In this time of pandemic when a spirit of fear and anxiety has seized the world let us join together on Pentecost invoking the Spirit of God and drawing inspiration from Pope Francis’ words when he describes beautifully the consequences of this Pentecost vision:
“We love this beautiful planet on which God has put us, and we love the human family which dwells here, with all its tragedies and struggles, its hopes and aspirations, its strengths and weaknesses. The earth is our common home and all of us are brothers and sisters.”
(Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel)Come Holy Spirit Fill the hearts of your faithful Enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.