On the Feast of Pentecost, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of the Lord, filling each of them, as one of the kneeling prayers of the Vespers Service says, “with overflowing grace.” The Holy Spirit empowered them to boldly preach the Gospel to the world, drawing the whole world to Christ. The Holy Spirit empowered them to become servants to all.
While we commemorate this historic event in the life of the Church, the Holy Spirit is still with us; the Spirit has not left us. Again, as one of the kneeling prayers says, the Spirit is “a perpetual inheritance to believers never to be taken away.” Indeed, at every Divine Liturgy, we pray that the Holy Spirit descend upon us even as we pray that the Spirit consecrates our Eucharistic offering.
The Church is a continual Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit gives life and light to the Church, to the entire people of God. In the Church, life and ministry are the same because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Each member of the Church, filled with the Holy Spirit, uses his or her talents to build up the Church and to spread the Gospel through the ministries of prayer and worship, teaching and preaching, charity and philanthropy, leadership and administration, and many others.
Saint Paul writes, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). In the Church, light and truth are the same because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. As one again of the kneeling prayers states, the Holy Spirit filled the apostles “so that every human race received the knowledge of God,” and “emerged from error as from darkness.” Thus, as the Holy Spirit fills each of us, we are all servants of God and responsible for the truth of our Faith. As we pray often in our services, we pray for those who teach and those who are taught.
We can see the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church to this day. The many ministries in our parishes, in our metropoles, in our Archdiocese are the fruit of the Spirit. These ministries, together, form the basis of the Church as the Body of Christ, established by Christ Himself in His ministry. These ministries are the results of the talents and gifts of all the clergy and the laity working together in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control, what Saint Paul calls the “fruit of the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22). And these too are interdependent, for how can there be love without patience, or self-control without gentleness? My brothers and sisters in the Lord, on the day of Pentecost, we commemorate the descent of the Spirit, but we celebrate the Church itself because through the Spirit, we are filled with life and light, empowered, like the first apostles and disciples, to spread the Gospel.