Time: circa 33 A.D., fifty days after Jesus of Nazareth had risen from the dead.
Place: an upper room in Jerusalem, Israel, possibly the same room where Jesus had celebrated the Last Supper with the Apostles on Holy Thursday. The doors of the room were securely bolted.
Those gathered, Peter, the other Apostles and Mary, Jesus` mother, were seated in the dimly-lit room praying and occasionally singing praise to God in muted voices. They were in great fear of the Jews and the Romans who had conspired to put Jesus to death. If they were found to persist in following Mary`s son, they could suffer a similar fate. They were waiting…for the risen Lord to keep a promise he has made to them:
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you. “
John 14: 26
Suddenly the sound of a mighty wind filled the entire house. Tongues of fire appeared and one of these settled on the head of each Apostle. At that moment, a complete change took place in their personalities. Each one was filled with courage; every trace of fear disappeared.
Filled with a great sense of purpose and enthusiasm, they arose, threw open the locked doors, trooped down the steps, out into the crowded streets of Jerusalem and began to preach boldly about Jesus, his life, his death and resurrection. Devout Jews from every nation lived in the city at that time. As the Apostles began to speak, each one heard the words in their native tongue.
Thus, the real meaning of Pentecost became evident. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, ordinary people are enabled to accomplish extraordinary deeds. Consider that these bold, eloquent preachers were formerly poor fishermen, probably illiterate. Moments before, they had been huddled, quivering cowards, in a locked room, frightened for their very lives. The Holy Spirit strengthened them for the great task which lay ahead.
They had been entrusted with the tremendous undertaking of starting the Christian Church. How well they succeeded in that enterprise! That very day was an auspicious beginning: three thousand people were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pentecost is considered to be the birthday of the Church.
And today, more than two thousand years later, the Church continues to grow and thrive through the efforts of modern-day apostles and disciples who continue to be guided, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
The wisdom, bravery and commitment of Peter and the others continued until their deaths. Many were martyred in distant lands as they continued to spread the Good News. In every generation since then, ordinary people ,empowered by the holy Spirit, have stepped up to continue their mission.
This then is the real meaning of Pentecost: God the Holy Spirit is powerful. He enables ordinary people to do extraordinary deeds. God the Holy Spirit is faithful. He will continue inspire people of good will in every age to continue Jesus` mission. God the Holy Spirit is One with the Father and the Son. It is through the action of the Holy Spirit, Jesus fulfills his pledge to his followers in every generation:
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.“