Sunday, May 23, 2010
Forgiveness and the Gentle Pentecost
The Spirit of God is seen as both breath and fire. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared as tongues of fire on the apostles and on Mary as they finished the first novena--nine days of continuous prayer--in the Upper Room. The effect was dramatic. Suddenly, they were no longer afraid. They spoke boldly of the fulfillment of God's prophesies through the person of Jesus Christ, and the onlookers each heard them speaking in their own language(s). [Acts, chapter 2].
In John, chapter 20, Jesus "breathed on (the apostles) and said, Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven. If you hold them bound, they are held bound. This coming of the Holy Spirit was much less dramatic but no less important. Forgiveness is hard. Asking for forgiveness is often as hard as granting it. It is only through God's Spirit that true forgiveness can take place.
We often would like to wait until the tongues of fire appear before we step out in faith and do what we are called to do in our daily lives. But, as it says in the Old Testament book of Kings, God was not in the wind...earthquake (or) fire. Instead, as Elijah discovered, the Spirit of God is often in the gentle whisper.
Adam and Eve discovered the same thing--God came to them in the cool of the evening, at that time of quiet reflection, after the heat of the day was past, to commune with them. What stopped this beautiful union? Sin and fear of asking forgiveness.
So, when Our Lord breathed the Holy Spirit on the apostles, he paired it with the one thing necessary to walk with God in the cool of the evening--forgiveness. Jesus was repairing our first parents' relationship with the creator through the Holy Spirit.
Be still and know that I am God. ~Psalm 46:10