Archbishop Nicolae’s Meditation
on the Feast of Pentecost 2008
After we have proclaimed the Lord’s Resurrection for 40 days, after we have witnessed to one another that Christ has risen for us and our salvation, we experience a period of 10 days, from the Lord’s Ascension until the Descent of the Holy Spirit, a time of waiting which is full of hope. Christ the Lord has ascended into heaven and has raised up our human nature to the Father’s right hand. Christ promised His Apostles and us that He would send the Holy Spirit as another Comforter. Like the Apostles of old, we too are awaiting the coming of the Spirit.
The fulfillment of our expectations through the sending of the Spirit is accompanied by signs. In the Acts of the Apostles we hear of “a sound as of a rushing mighty wind”, and then of “tongues of fire” which settled upon each of them. What came after those signs was the Apostles speaking in other languages, even though they were all Galileans, and being understood by those who heard them, even though they were “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia....” St. Peter explains the miracle, saying that the words of the Prophet Joel have been fulfilled, which announced the coming of the Spirit and speaking in tongues.
We can say that the miracle of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, as St. Luke relates it, has two aspects. The Holy Spirit which was sent from heaven made the Apostles able to speak in other tongues, although they were simple people who did not know foreign languages. Yet it was also the Spirit who made it possible for the listeners to understand what was being said. We do not know whether each Apostle spoke a different one of the foreign languages of each of the groups of Jews who had come from all over the world to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. We know that “they spoke in other tongues”. And we also know that each person understood, even though in this passage from Acts there are a quite a number of places mentioned from which the members of the Jewish Diaspora had come. The Spirit made some capable of proclaiming the Gospel, while others were given the ability to receive the word about the Deity of Christ.
This same account also shows us how the word of God operates. Those who had been chosen and sent to proclaim the Gospel were clothed with “power from on high” that they might preach the Word of God skillfully and with power. We know this from the history of God’s visitation of the Jewish people through His prophets. We now see it proved again through the choosing and sending of the Apostles. In the hearers, the mystery of understanding the Word is operative. It is the Word which reveals to us the Lord, and His will and plan for His creation. Through the words of the one who preaches the Word, each of us finds that special word which speaks to our own need and struggle. The preaching of the Word is fulfilled through this mystery of understanding, by which a single word takes on a multitude of personal and salvific meanings. This is the ministry of God in the Church following the Lord’s Ascension into heaven and the sending of the Spirit.
Let us pray for the sending of the Spirit, the preaching of the Word, and the fulfillment of the mystery, that we too may be illumined and perfected.