by Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
There are very many things that we could reflect on when it comes to this feast of Pentecost. I think, in a certain way, we overlook how important this feast really is in our own spirit life and what it has meant in the history of the church. Saint Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, describes for us, in a very symbolic way, what happened on that first Pentecost. He’s not recording history. The history probably was closer to what’s in the Gospel of John — that Jesus came on Easter Sunday night and gave the disciples the Spirit.
But Luke wants us to appreciate the full depth of the meaning of this feast, so he goes back to other Scripture passages. He wants us to see what happened here on that Pentecost or Easter Sunday night as like what happened at the beginning of creation. He wants us to see this is a new creation. In the book of Genesis, it’s described as, “Before the worlds were made there was chaos and a terrible wind blowing through that chaos.”
“That’s the wind that comes down upon the house,” as Luke describes it, “Shaking the walls, this wind.” The word “spirit” in Hebrew is wind. Luke is trying to get us to remember what happened. Now we know, not in seven days, day by day, but with a big bang out of nothing, God brings forth the beginnings of the universe. Now we know that this was billions of years ago. God’s creation has been going on now, these billions of years.
The more we learn about it, the more soundly we understand that it is what God has done. We look up at the sky and we see the Milky Way and we think, “What an extraordinary event that Milky Way is.” It’s only one; there are thousands. God is continuing to create. The universe is expanding, going on. There could well be other places in this huge universe where there is human life like our own. It’s a wondrous, extraordinary thing what God began — that creation from nothing...