Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Third Glorious Mystery ~ The Pentecost



Here is an icon of the Pentecost ~ the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Jerusalem is in the background. The perspective in the buildings is not what we are used to, reflecting that God's perspective: how to be human, how life can go, what we might think really matters ~ is very different from our own. And that this is not just a camera-ready historical moment, but one which transcends our snapshot, frozen-in-time thinking. This is why among the apostles, Saint Paul, who never met Jesus, is shown sitting across from Saint Peter in the front of the line on the right. I suppose we could put our own image in that place just as easily. Imagine, sitting in the circle of apostles on the day of Pentecost!

We notice that there is an empty chair in the middle of the scene between Peter and Paul. This is Jesus' chair. But Jesus has now returned to the Father in glory. The Father has sent the Holy Spirit as the Vicar of Christ. A vicar is a person who is authorized to represent someone else with that person's full authority.

There is this strange figure in the bottom center of the icon. This is the Ruler of the World - who lives in shadow and who seeks to have control of minds and lives. Maybe this ruler isn't a particular person but organizations and movements - maybe it's the media which wants to keep us shopping and spending, comfortable, protected and entertained. It seems we will have to wait for the brightness radiating from heaven to permeate this dark, underworld place.

As the heavens open up there are twelve rays emerging from above. These are the tongues of fire which will settle on each of the apostles. Fire is catalytic and purifying. Notice that in the icon there is no dove representing the Holy Spirit's descent. That's because there is no mention of a dove in the scriptural account of Pentecost - at the Baptism of Jesus, yes, but not at Pentecost. Divided flame which settles on the apostles is the Pentecost image.

And so long as there's the question about the dove. One thoughtful priest has suggested that it is perhaps the wrong bird to represent  God's Spirit because it is too soft, too pretty, too tame, too quiet. It might be better to have a wild goose represent the Holy Spirit. A goose is untamed, unpredictable, noisy. You can't easily catch or control a goose. The Spirit is much more like that, though many Christians will be uncomfortable with that iconography. So if the Holy Spirit is more like a goose than a dove, we'd best be really ready when we pray, "Come, Holy Spirit..."


Holy Spirit as Wild Goose Chase



Our Father, Who art in heaven...

It is the Jewish feast of Pentecost. It is the day of celebrating God's goodness and care through the harvest. Now with the visit of Jesus' Holy Spirit, it is a spiritual harvest: the Spirit of Jesus makes us abundantly fruitful in goodness and belief.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The Spirit comes down like fire. And this fire separated over each of them. It separated! This means that the source must be one and the same over each. God! And that each of us is  uniquely filled with God's gifts. We must accept this about ourselves and each human person.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Flame gives light. I ask the Spirit of Jesus to enlighten my mind, to take it out of the darkness where evil thoughts, guilt and protected memories breed. The flame comes to enlighten my mind to the teachings of Jesus ~ his purposes for me, his plans.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

And a great wind accompanied this Spirit-gift. It must have been noisy enough to draw the attention of the people in the city. Be wary of Christianity that is private and too quiet. In a world where deadly, bloody, violent sin happens, Christians have to make some noise, quite literally, for Christ's sake.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Flame gives heat. I ask the Spirit of Jesus to warm my heart with love for Jesus, who loves me endlessly. I ask Jesus to give me a love for myself where I am degraded. I ask for the gift of loving other people, especially the people who are different, or as the world goes, who are unlovable.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

The apostles are gathered in a room when the strength of Jesus comes down on them. And they go out from that room with a new role or mission to accomplish for Jesus. I must discover and learn mine. Jesus waits!

Hail Mary, full of grace...


On the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit came down, Peter preached boldly and everyone understood him in his or her own language. On that day it seems there was a great unity that drew thousands. Today, unity is very hard to achieve. But Pope Benedict XVI has said: Even if there cannot be a unity of belief, there can be a unity of love.

Hail Mary, full of grace...

And there is the gift of tongues. This is not so much about sounds coming out of mouths, but the spirit-ability to pass on Christ's truth to people of different situations and circumstances: the people who hear me!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

In hearing the spirit-filled apostles, three thousand people converted and were baptized that day. But day-by-day, am I being converted? Am I turning to a friendship with Jesus that changes my own heart and gives me joy?

Hail Mary, full of grace...

In Baptism I was drenched, soaked, saturated and flooded with the very life of Christ. I became a new creation, a new kind of human person: living my own unique life as truthfully and as beautifully as Jesus lived his!

Hail Mary, full of grace...

Glory be to the Father...


Rosemary ~ Saint Mary's Tree

1 comment:

  1. I like your comparison of the Holy Spirit to a wild goose. What a great way to think of it. Come Holy Spirit and fill me with an untamed love for God!

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