Ascension and Pentecost
May 21, 2020
We are nearing the end of the 50 days of Easter. June 1 we will celebrate Pentecost. Within this 50 days leading to Pentecost is the Feast of the Ascension. Ascension, is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, which is a Thursday. In most dioceses (such as ours) Ascension has been moved to Sunday. In this way more people can participate in this feast. On this day Jesus ascends—on his own—into heaven. He leaves his Mother and the Apostles, telling them he will send the advocate. 10 days later he did. On Pentecost the Holy Spirit comes to all gathered in the upper room.
“Violent wind and tongues of fire … these are the powerful images the Acts of the Apostles account of Pentecost uses to express a powerful experience. John’s Gospel (20:19) leads us to believe that prior to Pentecost the disciples of Jesus huddled together behind locked doors out of fear—hardly behavior befitting those who had “seen the Lord.” Yet, after Pentecost the disciples’ behavior changed dramatically: they burst the confines of locks and preached boldly and witnessed heroically.” (Spotlight on Liturgy, 2004)
Through receipt of the Holy Spirit we experience a new relationship of unique intimacy: God dwells within us. Pentecost has popularly been called the “birthday of the Church.” We might say that Pentecost is our birthday, our celebration of being God’s redeemed people who now share in the mission of the divine Son through the Spirit. This is our birthday not only because we celebrate the Spirit coming to us, but also because we ourselves now are truly the presence of the risen Christ for others.
God sends the Spirit and dignifies us to be the presence of Jesus in our world. We are God’s people; we are the body of Christ; we are God’s beloved who continue the mission of the beloved Son. Come Holy Spirit!