Feast of Pentecost – AUTHOR OF NEWNESS

Feast of Pentecost

Acts 2: 1-11                              Rom. 8: 8-17                            Jn. 14: 15-16, 23-26



Where the Holy Spirit is, there is life, newness and self-renewal.


Peter Paul Rubens was a famous Flemish painter. In 1614, he drew a picture of St. Teresa of Avila with the Holy Spirit, fluttering over her as dove. What is interesting is that this scene was not from the pious imagination of the artist, but in accordance with a vision St. Teresa had. That the Holy Spirit is the author and architect of the renewal and rejuvenation of the world and the Church is well manifested in this painting.

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles, also known as the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, in many places speaks about the outpouring of the Spirit on the believers: The Holy Spirit was poured on all those who listened to the teachings of the apostles (2: 1-4); When the disciples prayed together after the persecution by Sanhedrin, they were filled with the Holy Spirit (4: 30-31); When Peter and John laid their hands over the Samaritans, they received the Holy Spirit (8: 17); Ananias was sent to Saul that Saul may receive the Holy Spirit (9: 17); When Peter was preaching to the Gentiles, the Holy Spirit fell on them (10: 44).

The Bible also speaks of various gifts we receive by the outpouring of the Spirit: A person is guided towards the fullness of truth (Jn. 16: 13); What has been hidden and what is to come are revealed (Jn. 16: 13; 1Cor. 2: 10); One is purified (Is. 6: 6,7); One is set free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8: 1-2); One begins to be empowered and courageous (Lk. 24: 49; Rom. 8: 15); One is filled with God’s love (Rom. 5: 5); One receives life (Jn. 6: 63); One is renewed and transformed (Ps. 51: 10); People of various temperaments and mindsets live amicably and harmoniously (Is 34: 16).

In this reflection, let us look at a few symbols of the Holy Spirit.

The Symbolism of Dove:

When the flood began to subside, Noah from the ark sent a dove out. It came back with an olive leaf (Gen. 8: 10, 11). This incident instructs us that the Holy Spirit, symbolized by dove, is the harbinger and also the author of new creation. The incident of the Great Deluge affirms the truth that the Spirit destroys all that is evil and inaugurates all that is good. The Bible gives us ample evidences that wherever the Holy Spirit is present, there is new life and new creation. First of all, in the creation of the world, He was present (Gen. 1: 2); Then it was He who gave the renewed strength to the battered Israel who had been reduced to nothing because of Babylonian captivity (Ezek. 37); Once again it was the Holy Spirit who, on the day of Pentecost, inaugurated the New Israel – the Church.

The Symbolism of Wind:

Closely associated with the symbolism of dove, is the symbolism of wind. There are various places in the Bible where the Holy Spirit is symbolized as wind (Acts 2:  2; Jn. 3: 8). The Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost are the two words which are interchangeably used. The word ‘Ghost’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Gust’ which means ‘violent, flurry of wind.’  Similarly, the word ‘Spirit’ comes from the Latin word ‘Spiritus’ which means ‘the gentle breath of life.’ These two renderings inform us that the Holy Spirit is both the gust (gust of wind), and the gentle breath of life. Being the gust of wind, He destroys all that is evil in us, and being the gentle breath of life, He sustains all that is good in us. In any renewal, these two are the most important things – destruction of the evil (which is mostly violent) and the sustenance of the good (which is mostly gentle). The Holy Spirit does it.

The Symbolism of Fire

The symbolism of fire too is used for the Holy Spirit in the Bible (Acts 2: 3; Lk. 3: 16; Is. 6: 6,7; Ex. 19: 18)

-Fire can make something strong. That is why we char a canoe and fire clay pots. = We are strengthened by the Holy Spirit.

-Fire can make something soft. If we put a piece of iron into fire, such a hard piece is mellowed down to the extent of allowing itself to be bent. = Self-willed, hard hearts are softened by the Holy Spirit to the extent that they begin to bend on doing God’s will.

-Fire gives us light =The Holy Spirit enlightens our mind and illumines our heart.

-Fire takes away pain. If one has a sprained ankle or a swollen hand and if he places it close to fire, then he will feel that the heat helps the pain go away. = The Holy Spirit soothes our pained heart.

-Fire is used to burn away all that is old and useless = The Holy Spirit destroys all that is evil in us.

-Fire is very intense and powerful. = Whoever is filled with the Spirit lives a life of high intensity.

-‘Fire’ (=Warmth) is a sign that something is living. A corpse does not have warmth in it. = The Holy Spirit is the source of life.

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