Maria Kozakiewicz


Pentecost – May 24, 2015
Acts 2.1-11 | Psalm 104 | Galatians 5.16-25 | John 15.26-27; 16.12-15
May 18, 2015

Pentecost is one of the most powerful and mysterious feasts in the liturgical calendar. It is also the least understood.

Unlike Christmas and Easter, Pentecost lacks visual symbols that would make it easier to comprehend. It does not appeal to non-Christians, and thus (thankfully) it does not yield to commercialism.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. – John 16.13

'When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.'

John 16.13

Pentecost is about what is "within" us, not "without." Can the unbelieving world capture the wind of the Spirit rushing through the world? Can even we, the baptized, visualize what really happens in the coming of the Spirit?

In Poland, Pentecost is also called "the green feast." On that day you decorate churches, altars and homes with sweet-smelling green reeds and birch boughs, splendid in their new, tender spring greenery.

They symbolize the power of the Spirit as the giver of life and spiritual rebirth.

It took me time to discover the richness and theological beauty of Pentecost. It took me even longer to begin to understand its importance and to register at least some of the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I remember trying to memorize all the gifts of the Holy Spirit and to sort them by importance. Which is the most important gift of the Holy Spirit? Love? Patience?

Then I read the Gospel, and there I think I found my answer.

The first words of the resurrected Christ, spoken to his disciples who were hiding in a room and expecting to be arrested, was, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."

How could Jesus expect these men, deeply traumatized by his horrible death and unexplainable re-appearance, to receive one important gift of the Spirit directly from the risen Lord. More were to come on the day of Pentecost, but this gift seemed to be all important to Jesus.

"When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.'"

There is loving eagerness in Jesus' behaviour. He acts like a father or mother who at a terrible cost managed to obtain a cure for a dying child – and just cannot wait to give it to him. The price paid is forgotten; the joy of pending recovery of the child is far more important.

He comes to his frightened disciples. He does not mention their betrayal. Our God is so tactful. He shows his wounds to prove he is risen, not to make them feel guilty or ask for pity.

In my mind, the Spirit's most important gift is that of forgiveness for sins. From that moment, forgiveness will flow from God through priests of all times and places to the sinful world. This gift cleanses humanity like a gentle flood.

When we refuse the gift, we become dust. When we accept it, we are reborn and renewed – just like the spring green on birches after winter.