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By Fr. Joseph, MIC (Apr 14, 2009)
Readings: Acts 2:36-41; Jn 20:11-18
"... you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38
Today's first reading is taken from St. Peter's Pentecost sermon, in which he urges his listeners to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:38). The only reason the crowds are listening to Peter at all is that they have just witnessed the Holy Spirit in action. Christ had promised that when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, they would be clothed with power. And He wasn't kidding (see Acts 1:8)!
A sudden loud sound. Tongues of fire. Everyone speaking in strange languages. So much noise that thousands of people gather, amazed and bewildered (see Acts 2:1-12).
It's doubtful that the apostles had expected this kind of behavior from the Holy Spirit. And they probably didn't anticipate the effect He would have on their own behavior. The "devout men" who have gathered certainly don't seem to be viewing this as a legitimate religious experience. Some of them openly mock the apostles, saying, "They have had too much new wine" (Acts 2:13).
Though it's only nine o'clock in the morning, the apostles are indeed acting drunk, so much so, that, as he begins the first Christian sermon, St. Peter has to assure the crowds, "These men are not drunk, as you suppose" (Acts 2:15).
It's helpful to look at this scene now and then, so we don't try to keep the Holy Spirit in a tidy little box of our own making. It's really a control issue. We like to think we're in charge, and we don't like surprises. We have certain expectations of how God will act and how people ought to act if they are really filled with His Spirit.
Reliving Pentecost reminds us not to judge others and not to place conditions on God. It invites us to throw away the remote control unit and call upon the Holy Spirit to "clothe us in power" in whatever ways He chooses.
Lord, I want to be completely open to Your will. Help me to pray constantly: "Come, Holy Spirit; come now; come as You wish." Amen. Alleluia!