Sunday Readings: Acts 2.1-11; 1 Corinthians 12.3-7,12-13; John 20.19-23
It was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” After this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20.19-23).
Pentecost is the birthday of the Church, the birth day. The risen Jesus brings peace to his disciples all locked up together in fear and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them for the purpose of their becoming an actively reconciling community. Jesus breathes peace on them and sends them to spread peace and forgiveness.
In the story of Pentecost from Acts 2, the Spirit comes upon the waiting community, 120 strong. Who receives the Spirit that transforms followers into fiery-tongued preachers of the good news. The community includes eleven of the original disciples, Matthias, who takes Judas’s place, Jesus’ mother Mary, and the women disciples who accompanied Jesus to Jerusalem and go to Jesus’ tomb and find it empty, for sure Mary Magdalene; Salome, the other of James and John; Mary the mother of James the younger; Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward; Suzanna; Jesus’ friends Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and many others whom Jesus touched in his teaching and healing. The Spirit transforms the community into fiery witnesses of Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and resurrection. So fiery is Peter’s tongue that his preaching adds 3,000 believers to the community that day.
The Spirit comes upon the tongues of the witnesses and ears of the many Jews from surrounding areas on every side of Israel. Each hears Peter’s message in his or her own tongue. The message is that Jesus, who was crucified, is both Lord and Messiah.
When has the Holy Spirit inflamed you to speak and act? To listen and learn?