Pentecost Sunday: Unlocking Our Super Powers
May 31, 2023
On May 28, we celebrated Pentecost Sunday. I have always appreciated that Pentecost is a profound and significant event in the life of the Church, but Pentecost has meant many different things to me in my lifetime. When I was very young, Pentecost was “the birthday of the Church”. When I was a little older, I was obsessed with the idea that Pentecost marked the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples, empowering them to fulfill their divine mission. I used to fantasize that some fateful Pentecost Sunday, I would just start speaking in tongues, charismatically moved by, maybe even “possessed” by, the Holy Spirit. To 10 year-old me, the coolest thing that could ever happen would be If I started speaking in tongues. As I have grown and matured, I know I’m probably not going to start speaking in tongues on Pentecost Sunday, but the part of Pentecost that I have always embraced is my feeling of astonishment in the power of that event.
In his book Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church, Pope Francis tells us that at the heart of Pentecost lies child-like wonder, a very real and very fundamental element of pure astonishment. Pentecost, as we know, marks a pivotal moment in the Christian narrative. It is a time when the disciples, disheartened and seemingly defeated after Jesus’ crucifixion, experienced an unexpected event that astounded them and the surrounding crowd. The Holy Spirit descended upon them, filling them with courage and power, and in a single moment, they learned to speak a new language, a universal language that all people could understand, the language of love.
The early Church that emerged from Pentecost was an astonishing community. With the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were empowered to proclaim a new message, they were emboldened to proclaim the resurrection of Christ, and they spread this astonishing message in a universal language that transcended all cultural and linguistic barriers. Each person heard the disciples speaking in their own tongues, testifying to the greatness of God’s works. This divine intervention challenged all preconceived notions and left all who heard the message awestruck.
We live in a world of astonishment. We are literally surrounded by marvelous and amazing things everywhere we look. In our current reality, it is however difficult to astonish anyone. Last Sunday, at Holy Eucharist Cathedral, Fr. Mykhailo reminded me that perhaps the most astonishing power of the Holy Spirit, is that we already have the gifts of the Holy Spirit inside us all, gifts that we all received at our Baptisms, gifts that are greater than any super power, and gifts that are called to exist for all time.
The gifts of the Holy Spirit are truly astonishing, the gifts carry with them the mission of proclaiming the victory of Christ over death, of spreading the message that God’s arms are always open, and that His patience is everlasting, waiting to heal and forgive all of us. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, that we commonly understand as wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, are truly superpowers that we all possess, these gifts are manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work within us. These super powers guide us, inspire us, and empower us in our journey of faith.
Fr. Mykhailo explained that the gift of wisdom enables us to discern God’s will and to make choices that align with His divine plan; the gift of understanding grants us the ability to delve deeper into the mysteries of faith, spurning us to continuously grow in our faith. The gift of counsel provides us with divine guidance and helps us navigate the complexities of life; the gift of fortitude strengthens our resolve and empowers us to face challenges and adversity with courage and conviction. The gift of knowledge enriches our understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ, deepening our relationship with God. The gift of piety nurtures our reverence and devotion towards God, fostering a profound sense of worship and gratitude. Lastly, the fear of the Lord, perhaps the most misunderstood gift, instills in us a reverential awe, reminding us of the greatness of God, of our dependence on Him, and encouraging us to “let go and let God” when we feel overwhelmed.
The last piece of wisdom that Fr. Mykhailo imparted to me on Sunday is that although the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are inside all of us, we don’t always choose to, or even know how to, “unlock our super powers”. Fr. Mykhailo compared the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to a six pack of abdominal muscles. We all have a ripped six pack of abs in our abdomen, but we don’t all necessarily do the things we need to do to get that “beach body six pack”. Sometimes, we make conscious choices and skip our ab exercises, and sometimes we don’t even know what dietary choices to make or what exercises to do to build those core muscles. This is often the case with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that are inside us all.
On the day that Jesus’ disciples were imbued with the Holy Spirit, all who witnessed this miraculous event were truly astounded (cf. Acts 2:6–7, 11). This astonishing display demonstrated the true transformative power of the Holy Spirit; the Church was born at Pentecost, we became an astounding community, bearing a new message, speaking a new language, communicating to all that Jesus Christ has trampled “death by death” and proclaiming the universal language of love. The most wonderful part to me is that the same Holy Spirit is inside us!
I hope that the astonishment of Pentecost reminds us all of the words of Saint Paul, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). I hope that the astonishment of Pentecost ignites our hearts and minds, I hope that it unlocks our super powers, and I hope that it encourages us all to strive to be a Church that astounds, as we speak the language of love, and as we serve as living witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Take care, be well, stay safe, and God bless you all.
Live Jesus in Our Hearts… Forever!
The Admin Team