Pentecost is For Everyone!
by Virginia King
There is a story about a group of refugees who were leaving a very arid desert area in Africa because of years of drought and were seeking to find a new place to live where they could survive. They were led by their guide past a great waterfall and they could not believe what they were seeing: millions and millions of gallons of water just flooding over that waterfall. They stood and stared at the waterfall for a very long time. When the guide finally was able to get them to continue their journey, he asked them why they were staring at the waterfall. They answered, “We were waiting to see it stop flowing.” He said to them, “But it never stops flowing!” They asked him, “For how many years has it been flowing?” and he told them “For millions and millions of years!” This was something that was simply beyond their understanding—so far removed was it from their previous experience of life without even enough water to survive.
God’s love poured out upon humanity is like that waterfall. It is more abundant than we can imagine. God is extravagant in pouring out his love—not doing it in measured portions, but splashing and dancing and rushing upon us all the time.
The Holy Spirit is the love of God! The Holy Spirit is the One who is being poured out on humanity, all the time! And how do we respond?
Some of us are like those refugees before they left their desert home. We have never seen a waterfall, nor even imagined one. We are clueless that God is pouring out His Spirit “upon all mankind.” (Joel 3:1, Acts 2:17) We are doing our best to survive in a hostile environment, without any idea that there might be a different way of living.
Some of us are like the guide, familiar with the waterfall, probably appreciative of its beauty and display of power, but able to walk past it regularly without it making a significant difference in our lives. We have heard of the Holy Spirit and may even have a good theological understanding of His position in the Blessed Trinity, but we keep our distance, and go our own way.
Some of us are like the refugees when they first saw the waterfall—full of wonder and awe, practically unable to move. This is a good thing for a short time, but it’s not good to remain there too long. After all, you can starve to death staring at a waterfall just as much as staring at a desert.
I think the challenge is to cooperate with the power and goodness of the waterfall in order to bring life to the people. Those who allow the power of the waterfall to flow through a generator to bring light and energy to the people, and use the goodness of the fresh water to irrigate the land to feed the people, are truly recognizing its purpose.
Jesus told his disciples, “Behold I am sending the promise of the Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) “He enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for ‘the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’” (Acts 1:4-5, 8)
On Pentecost Sunday, when the disciples were gathered in the upper room with our Blessed Mother, praying together, obediently waiting for the promise of the Father yet not even imagining what it might be, they suddenly experienced a power like no other power. I’m sure their first reaction was wonder and awe. But thank God, they didn’t stay in the upper room unable to move. No, they moved. They moved out into the world, allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to use them to bring life to the people, to bring light and energy and food to “the ends of the earth.”
This is the same promise of the Father, the same Holy Spirit, who is given to us in the Sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation. How do we respond? We who serve the Church through Catholic Charismatic Renewal are convinced that each of us individually, and the Church as a whole, is not yet fully cooperating with the power and goodness of the Holy Spirit Who is poured out on “all of mankind” in a constant flow. There is so much more that God wants to accomplish through our cooperation with the Holy Spirit!
Unlike a waterfall, that can only renew a small part of the earth with hydroelectric power and irrigation, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that began at Pentecost and has continued until this day is intended to renew the face of the whole earth. The promise of the Father is for every person, in every country, in every time.
Pentecost is for everyone!
The mystery of why God requires our cooperation is far beyond the scope of this article or of my limited knowledge. But it is a reality. And so, how do we respond?
Are we satisfied that many people are living in the desert and have not even heard of the Holy Spirit? Are we so complacent that we can have an awareness of the Holy Spirit and yet continue to go our own way? Are we in awe of the power of the Holy Spirit but getting stuck in one place, not moving forward and failing to cooperate with that power? Or are we actively seeking to cooperate in order to bring light and energy and food to our dark and listless and hungry world?
We need Pentecost! We need the Holy Spirit to come upon us so that we will be witnesses to Jesus, who is Savior and Lord of all the earth. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to compel us to move out of the upper room, to boldly proclaim the mighty deeds of God.
At his final celebration of Pentecost in 2004, Pope John Paul II went to great lengths to encourage the Catholic Charismatic Renewal to continue to serve the Church in its task of focusing attention on the grace of Pentecost. He said, “Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, a multitude of Christians have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives. I hope that the spirituality of Pentecost will spread in the Church as a renewed incentive to prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.”
It is clear to me that Pope John Paul II was not saying that the spirituality of Pentecost is only for those who happen to identify with the Charismatic Renewal. Rather, we who are in Charismatic Renewal are called to identify with the whole Church, to be leaven in the Church, helping others to see the “waterfall” of the Holy Spirit, and having seen it, allow it to bring life, to generate light and energy and to irrigate hearts and minds as we cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit.
Come Holy Spirit, renew the face of the earth!
Reprinted with permission from GLEANINGS newsletter May/June/July 2007 published by Western Washington Catholic Charismatic Renewal.