Authentic Pentecost

For those of us involved in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, Pentecost is an especially significant day.  We often point to this experience in the early Church as evidence of the validity of the experience of “baptism in the Spirit,” which has touched our lives so deeply.

Yet baptism in the Spirit, certainly an experience is also meant to lead us to a life-style and ultimately, total transformation.

Luke, the author of the gospel picked up his pen again to give us the book of the Acts of the Apostles.  His first volume (the gospel) portrays the life, ministry, passion, and victory of Jesus…by the power of the Holy Spirit.  His second volume (Acts) explores the same themes, but this time the Spirit is empowering the Church of Jesus.

If we really want to use Luke’s writings as a blueprint of the ideal Christian life, the life of Pentecost, then it is essential for us to really examine the story, the whole story.

Ecclesial life:  Luke, lists the names of the apostles in Acts 1:13.  To Luke, it is important that we realize that the Apostles are in the upper room.  Peter “stood up in the midst of the brothers.” (Acts 1:15)

One of the first things that happen in the upper room is that Judas’ replacement is chosen. The Apostles are setting their house in order.  Clearly the Apostles, led by Peter, are in leadership position, and have a special prominence among the group of 120 people gathered in the upper room.

Mary:  The only other proper name mentioned by Luke, besides the Apostles is Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  Luke mentions Mary prominently in his gospel as well.  Luke wants us to know that Mary has a unique and highly honored role in the first community.  Mary, along with the Apostles and the other 120 people, will experience the power of the Holy Spirit in a charismatic dimension when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them.

Community: “When the time of Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.” (Lk2:1)  The words “all in one place together” are Luke’s way to show us that God not only works in the lives of individuals but with a group, a people.  In our individualistic society, “all in one place together” seems tedious, unnecessary, and burdensome.  Yet, it was the community that was to receive the Visitation from on high.

Experience/Charisms:  When the Spirit descended on the community…something tangible happened.  There was a real encounter, not a philosophical discussion.  They saw something, they heard something, and they felt something.  As the experienced deepened, they found themselves using strange and new methods of proclamation of God’s glory.  They all were enraptured in the Spirit and gave themselves freely to a new release, a new expression of what they were experiencing.

Proclamation:  With a new boldness, the 120 went outside to meet the curious, amazed, and somewhat cynical crowd.  The fervor was so great, Peter words so eloquent that 3,000 more persons were added to the Church that day!

Lifestyle:  In the days, weeks and months that followed “those who were being saved” lived lives of such holiness, generosity, and joy that their very lives were part of the proclamation of the kingdom.

If we truly want to hold up the Pentecost account of Luke as the ideal Christian life, we must measure ourselves against this standard:

Do I see myself under the authority and in union with Peter and the Apostles?  Am I in line with the teaching of the Holy Father and in Communion with Cardinal George?

Can I truly embrace Mary as not only my Mother but a member of the Christian Community.  Am I willing to stand by her in the upper room and pray at her side in the power of the Holy Spirit?

Can I think “us” instead of “me?”  Am I willing to invest myself in some form of “community?”  Am I willing to be “in one place” with people who are less than perfect?  Will I work for unity in the body of Christ.

Am I open, truly open to experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in my life?  Will I ‘fan in to flame’ the gifts and charisms that the Spirit bestows on me?

Will I boldly testify to others about the Lordship of Jesus?  Will I refuse to “beat around the bush” and instead to calmly yet clearly proclaim the truth of the kingdom?

Am I willing to live a life of holiness, generosity and joy?  Am I committed to live an exemplary life?

Don’t give pat answers.  Wrestle with these questions.  By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, may you come to live all of these areas of an authentic life in the Holy Spirit.  If you do, you will be living an authentic Pentecost.

Jim Murphy is President of Vera Cruz Communications.