Sunday, 31 May 2009

Pentecost Sunday: receive the Holy Spirit! (John 20:22)

We are now at the end of the Easter Season, it is Pentecost Sunday, and the Gospel is taken form John 20:19-23.

As I mentioned in my post two weeks ago , I will try and engage on a journey of deeping the relation with our Lord. Since Easter I have been reflecting on the disciples and talked about the time it might take to get used to the idea that Jesus is Truly risen, the shock, and the question what it means in our lives.

Then as the Easter season went on I have tried to share a bit of the deepening of our relation with God as we were reading the 15th chapter of John. To "abide with him ", to really start to come close to Jesus. Finally, two weeks ago I decided to reflect on the basis of our relationship, in following the commandments, in order that we can build our relation on a firm belief in Gods love.

Now we are at Pentecost Sunday, and a good day to reflect on what to do next and what we expect... as Jesus was taken up into the cloud the disciples rejoice, and went back to the upper room to pray... but what will be next... it can be a long nine days if you do not know what to do or to expect.
This time of prayer might feel lonely in a way, as we don't know what to expect. And what do we expect? What do we expect when the Holy Spirit comes? Do we even know what it exactly means? In acts it is obvious that it was quite a manifestation: "suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind" (Act 2:2 RSV), "there appeared to them tongues as of fire" (Act 2:3 RSV) and in later parts of acts we read of similar manifestations (e.g. Acts 19:6). 
But maybe we can also derive that this is not always the case "[Apollos] had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John" (Act 18:25 RSV)
We read in the gospel the account where "[Jesus] breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" (Joh 20:22 RSV). There does not seem to be a great manifestation at that time, no great outburst of missionary activity as yet. And so I belief it is normally, the spirit works quietly in us, Jesus is always quietly present to us (hence the need to be silent). 
Even the Lord himself says "yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me" (Joh 16:32 RSV) just before the time He went into the garden of Gethsemane, when He cried on the cross "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mar 15:34 RSV) 
God's presence, Jesus' abiding with us, the guidance of the Holy Spirit is most of the time silent, and something we don't notice. Even though God is as close as ever, it might feel that He has forsaken us... But Jesus says "Peace be with you" (Joh 20:21 RSV) and so His peace is with us.
I am a firm believer of Gods perpetual presence with us, giving us a deep sense of peace, of belonging. We might not notice this when we have it, but we do notice when we lose it. God's presence is beyond what we can sense, it is beyond our comprehension. It is a deeper experience than anything else in this world, and it will take time to understand this. Through grace however we do get glimpses of Gods presence in our lives, and through enlightenment we start to more and more understand how this deep relationship is real, more real than anything else in this world can be real...
We have to, kind of coming back to the point of two weeks ago, make a decision to follow Jesus. This deep relation is available to everybody who wants to engage in it. It is a deep desire in our heart for love, and God does not put desires in our heart that He cannot be fulfill. It means however that we might have to change our lives a small bit and this sometimes can be a bit of a painful experience. However, it is worth every bit of hardship we might endure. Once we realize the true reality of what it means to be alive and to be a child of God nothing in the world can satisfy us except becoming part of this reality! I will try to develop this more in the coming weeks...


Matthew said...


I just found your blog listed under the New Blogs in the St. Blog's Parish Directory. Welcome to the Directory and welcome to the Catholic blogosphere.

Laudetur Jesus Christus!

Karinann said...

Bro. Luuk,
Thank you for another insightful post. I like the reminder this week of how God is always present ~ even when it does not seem that way. I am ashamed to say that I am not very good with remembering Chapter & Verse, but I seem to remember a Scripture passage that tells of Elijah? finding God in the quiet whisper of wind. Please correct me if I got any of that wrong.
God Bless!

Bro. Luuk Dominiek Jansen OP said...

Yes, that is right and it is a lovely line. I had to search and initially I was also thinking of Moses, but it was Elijah in Kings:

1 Kings 19:11-13:
" And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave." (1Ki 19:11-13 RSV)

(Translated here as voice, but can also be whisper etc.)


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