When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky
a noise like a strong driving wind,
and it filled the entire house in which they were.
Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,
which parted and came to rest on each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. (Acts 2:1-4)
The Phoenix, in Greek mythology, was a bird that lived an extremely long life, was consumed by fire, and was “reborn” out of the ashes of its predecessor. The Phoenix was adopted by the early Church as a Christian symbol.
In fire, there is often rebirth.
How many times, even around us, are nature preserves subjected to controlled burns so that the old growth can be consumed by flames? When the old growth is burned, it leaves room for new growth to absorb the sunlight and grow. It also fertilizes the ground, feeding the new growth.
One might say that, from the ashes of their early lives, the Christians were “reborn” when the Holy Spirit, in the form of tongues of fire, rained down upon Mary and the Apostles in the Upper Room on Pentecost. The fire of the Holy Spirit cleared away the old in the Apostles — doubt, fear, anxiety — and provided them with the opportunity to draw new life from the Light of the Son.
We celebrate that great day today as we end our Easter season. We ask God to fill us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we, too, have the grace and courage to proclaim the Good News of the Lord.
FAITH ACTION: In quiet time with the Lord today, reflect upon the words of the Pentecost Sequence:
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend;
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end. Amen.