Pentecost Sunday

Pentecost - the gift of the Spirit
Sketch by Brianne Schulze

The person of the Holy Spirit is so simple that He cannot be expressed or explained so as to be understood.  The Spirit makes Himself known to those who receive Him with a willing heart.  The Spirit is strong love that penetrates the dark place of our heart that still fears death will have the last word.  The Spirit comes to us to lift us above and through the struggles and despair we perceive around us, spreading hope like fire.  The Spirit makes it easy and joyful to stand for what is right and speak the words of fire that burn from the heart of God.  The Spirit accomplishes our union with the Father and the Son while at the same time completing the mission He has in the world through us.  May we all burn with divine fire and experience the love of God beyond limit.


To the Hebrew people, now freed from Egypt, the law was given on Mount Sinai fifty days after the immolation of the paschal lamb. Similarly, after the passion of Christ in which the true Lamb of God was killed, just fifty days after his resurrection, the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles and the whole group of believers. Thus the earnest Christian may easily perceive that the beginnings of the Old Covenant were at the service of the beginnings of the gospel and that the same Spirit who instituted the first established the Second Covenant. 1


[…] he also showed that the Passover was to be celebrated on the Lord’s day. For here too God appeared in a vision of fire, as he had also in the earlier case, as Exodus says, “For the whole of Mount Sinai was smoking because the Lord had descended upon it in fire.”2


Do you see the type? What is this Pentecost? The time when the sickle was to be put to the harvest and the fruits to be gathered. Look at the reality now, how the time has come to ply the sickle of the Word. The Spirit, keen-edged, came down in place of the sickle.3

But when man ascended on high, the Spirit descends from on high, “like the rush of a mighty wind.” Through this it is made clear that nothing will be able to stand against them and they will blow away all adversaries like a heap of dust.4


When the blessed apostles
were gathered together
the place shook
and the scent of Paradise,
having recognized its home,
poured forth its perfumes,
delighting the heralds
by whom
the guests are instructed
and come to his banquet;
eagerly he awaits their arrival
for he is the Lover of mankind.5


[…] why it is that the fostering Spirit is given to them as flame [but] at the River Jordan as a dove; I shall fitly sing this [mystery], and I shall fulfill the promises owed if [the Spirit] brings his gifts. These two signs are allegories that there should be simplicity, which very appropriately [this] bird loves, [and] that, lest [this simplicity] be sluggish [and] grow lukewarm without the fire of doctrine, there should also be faith that has been kindled. There [in the Jordan] he appointed by means of the waters [that they be] of one mind; here [with fire] he bids that they teach with flaming words. Love presses hard upon their minds; zeal burns in their words.6


Therefore, when he sent the Holy Spirit he manifested him visibly in two ways—by a dove and by fire: by a dove upon the Lord when he was baptized, by fire upon the disciples when they were gathered together.…

There is a diversity of tongues, but the diversity of tongues does not imply schisms. Do not be afraid of separation in the cloven tongues, but in the dove recognize unity.7


They partook of fire, not of burning but of saving fire. This is a fire that consumes the thorns of sins but gives luster to the soul. This is now coming upon you also in order to strip away and consume your sins, which are like thorns, and to brighten yet more that precious possession of your souls, and to give you grace, the same given then to the apostles.8

Leo the Great:

From this day the trumpet of the gospel teaching resounds. From this day showers of graces and streams of benedictions water all the desert and every wasteland, to “renew the face of the earth,” “God’s Spirit hovered over the water.” To take away the old darkness, beams of new light flash out, when by the splendor of those glowing tongues, the Word of the Lord becomes “clear” and “speech takes fire.” Both the force of giving light and the power of burning were present for this reason, to create knowledge and to destroy sin.9


  1. SERMON 75.  Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (p. 20). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. COMMENTARY ON THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 2.1.  Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (p. 20). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles 4.  Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (p. 20). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. ibid.
  5. HYMNS ON PARADISE 11.14.  Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (pp. 20–21). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  6. ON THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 1.  Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (p. 22). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  7. TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 6.3.  Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (p. 22). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  8. Catechetical Lecture 17.15.  Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (pp. 22–23). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  9. SERMON 75.2.  Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (p. 23). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x