Today we celebrate the feast of Pentecost also known as the Sunday of the Holy Trinity. We heard the depiction of what happened on that day read from the Book of Acts and we only have to look at the great stained glass window above the Holy Altar to see what happened.
The feast comes 50 days after the Great Feast of Pascha and it is the fulfillment of the mission of Jesus Christ and is the start of the messianic age of the Kingdom of God mystically present in the Church. One might also call this the birthday of the Church as tradition tells us that this is when the Church began her public ministry. We see in this feast for the first time the revelation of the Divine Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Scripture tells us in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles that all those who were present heard the Apostles speak in their own language. People had gathered in Jerusalem from all points of the Empire and each was able to hear in his own language the message of St. Peter as he quoted from the Prophet Joel, the passage that was read last night at the Vespers service, “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:25)
In the Vespers Hymns last night we heard of the fulfillment of another event from the Old Testament that has to do with language:
The arrogance of building the tower in the days of old led to the confusion of tongues.
Now the glory of the knowledge of God brings them wisdom.
There God condemned the impious for their transgression.
Here Christ has enlightened the fishermen by the Spirit.
There disharmony was brought about for punishment.
Now harmony is renewed for the salvation of our souls.
We also heard about the power of the Holy Spirit and the mission:
The Holy Spirit provides all things:
He pours forth prophecies,
He leads priests to perfection,
He teaches unschooled people wisdom,
He reveals fishermen as theologians,
He confirms the Church.
O Comforter, one in essence and enthroned with the Father and the Son, glory to You!
This day has a special significance for me. 8 Years ago, on Pentecost Sunday, I knelt before the Royal Doors of this very Church and was Chrismated into the Orthodox Church. For me Pentecost is the culmination of a very long journey that brought out of the faith of my birth and into the faith of the Orthodox. In a sense, the day of my Chrismation is my birthday, the day that my spiritual life began.
Through the Sacrament of Chrismation we are anointed with oil, a special oil, that can only be blessed by the Patriarch of a particular Church, for us that is the Patriarch of Romania. The Myron that we are anointed with is a link to the Ancient Church, the symbol of what joins us to that unbroken line all the way back to the Apostles who were anointed on that first Pentecost in the upper room. A transformation takes place that has to continue each and every day.
You have heard me say many times before, but it bears repeating, that our spiritual life is not a sprint but a marathon. Each day we have to renew our commitment to be sons and daughters of the light. We have to relight that light if you will each and every day and this is not an easy task.
We come to Church each week to find the strength that we need for the journey. The Church has been called a hospital the soul. This is the place we come to find refreshment and healing. Healing of all those hurts, all of those things that have estranged us from fulfilling our full potential to be the sons and daughters of the light. We come and gather in the presence of the Sacred and ask the Holy Spirit to come upon us and remain with us as we continue the week. Life is good inside, but once we walk outside that door life become real.
At the start of every Liturgy I pray the prayer of the Holy Spirit. Three times I recite the prayer that asks for the Holy Spirit to enter this place and abide with us. Everything that we do is through the power of the Holy Spirit. The realization that we need the healing, the healing that only the Holy Church can offer, comes to us through the Holy Spirit. The ministry that I have, that I celebrate on behalf of all of us, is completed in and through the power of the Holy Spirit. I call the Holy Spirit down upon the gifts of bread and wine, the final sacrifice, the simple, humble gifts that have been placed on the altar by and from all of us. The Holy Spirit comes and sanctifies the bread and wine and it becomes for us the bread of life, the actual Body and Blood of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate and remember and event that took place more than 2,000 years ago. The day the Church was born, the day the Apostles started their earthly ministry. But this is not just a date in history because we celebrate this event each time we gather as Church. We call upon the Holy Spirit to be with us and to guide us in all that we do as Church. Just as the Holy Spirit emboldened the Apostles I pray that each of us will experience the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in each of us as we continue of spiritual journey.